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Publis Safety Minister Steven Blaney responds to a question in the House of Commons on Nov. 28, 2013. (ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Publis Safety Minister Steven Blaney responds to a question in the House of Commons on Nov. 28, 2013. (ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Please state the nature of the national emergency: A look at Ottawa’s disaster-warning script Add to ...

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.

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“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.”

STEVEN BLANEY’S TALKING POINTS

In the event of a terrorist incident in Canada:

  • Canada has suffered a national tragedy.
  • My heartfelt sympathies go out to the victims of today’s attack and their families.
  • The government of Canada 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.
  • The government of Canada is assisting the local authorities to save lives and help victims.

In the event of a terrorist incident in the United States:

  • A tragic event has taken place in (city or state) and our heartfelt sympathies are with those directly affected and their families.
  • Terrorism is a global phenomenon and Canada is not immune.
  • The government of Canada remains unwavering in its commitment to protect the safety and security of Canadians and to advance the global fight against terrorism.
  • We continue to work closely with our domestic and international partners to protect against security threats. We face the same threats and share the same concerns.
  • 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.

In the event of 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).
  • The government of Canada is in contact with its (provincial/territorial) counterparts and will continue to share information as it becomes available.
  • First responders and (provincial/territorial) officials are responsible for addressing the immediate needs of citizens in the affected area.
  • Public Safety will work with the (provincial/territorial government) to ensure that requests for federal assistance are handled without delay.
  • In order to allow for an effective recovery to take place, it is important that people in the affected area(s) co-operate with their local authorities.

In the event of a major natural or man-made disaster in the United States:

  • Our heartfelt sympathies are with the families and friends of those affected by this terrible (type of incident) in (city or town).
  • (If applicable) I have been in close contact with my U.S. counterparts.
  • The government of Canada is monitoring the situation.
  • The government of Canada is ready to co-ordinate a national response – should assistance be requested by the U.S. government.

In the event of a major cybersecurity incident in Canada:

  • Cyberattacks are a global phenomenon. Canada and other countries face escalating cyberthreats – these threats are real and continue to mature.
  • 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. The government of Canada is also working closely with its national and international partners, private industry, law enforcement and other levels of government to encourage information sharing and to prevent, detect and defeat cyber-incidents.
  • We are committed to protecting Canada’s cyber-networks and defending against malicious cyberactivity.

In the event of a major cybersecurity incident in the United States:

  • The government of Canada is closely monitoring the situation.
  • We take these threats seriously and have measures in place to address them.
  • We are committed to protecting Canada’s cyber-networks and defending against malicious cyberactivity.

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