OTTAWA – If there’s a major cyberattack on Canada, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney will not be giving the public “specific details” of the incident, newly released briefing notes indicate.
However, the minister won’t be at a complete loss for words if he follows the carefully crafted script he’s been provided for just such a terrible occasion.
“Cyberattacks are a global phenomenon,” Blaney is advised to tell Canadians.
“Canada and other countries face escalating cyberthreats — these threats are real and continue to mature.”
Stephen Harper’s office has been roundly criticized in recent years for micromanaging cabinet ministers and the public servants who toil in their departments.
However, the briefing notes — obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act — show bureaucrats are not above looking over ministerial shoulders.
The notes suggest Blaney be circumspect about an assault on vital electronic networks.
“While I won’t provide specific details about the nature of this incident, I can assure you the government of Canada has plans in place to prevent, minimize and address the impacts of cyberthreats.
“Government agencies are working closely together to take appropriate action and implement mitigating measures.”
In fact, Blaney will be ready to respond to other kinds of catastrophes — including a major natural or man-made disaster in Canada.
“Our heartfelt sympathies are with the families and friends of those affected by this terrible (type of incident) in (city or town),” he is counselled to say.
“The government of Canada is in contact with its (provincial/territorial) counterparts and will continue to share information as it becomes available.”
And if terrorists strike the country? “Canada has suffered a national tragedy.”
Blaney is also advised to reassure the public the government “remains unwavering” in its commitment to protect the safety and security of Canadians and to advance the global fight against terrorism.
“The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) are working closely with local law enforcement officials to investigate.”
Public Safety officials suggest, should terrorists land a blow to the United States, that Blaney remind the public “Canada is not immune” from the extremist scourge.
“I have been in contact with my U.S. counterpart, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and have offered both our sympathy and our assistance to the U.S.”
During any event with a continental dimension, the president of the Canada Border Services Agency and the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection will activate a protocol to help “co-ordinate responses and public messaging,” the notes say.
The prepackaged federal statements have international precedents.
American Gen. Dwight Eisenhower scratched out four sentences of regret on a piece of paper in June 1944 as Allied troops prepared for the D-Day invasion of Europe.
Then-U.S. president Richard Nixon was also ready in 1969 should the manned Apollo mission of 1969 end in failure: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”