CRTI: Science for a Secure Canada

Watch this video (14 min.) to meet the scientists and experts who are collaborating to protect Canada from security threats. CRTI website.

You can also watch the video in Windows Media format.

Transcript of Video:

Terrorist events around the world are forcing Canadians to wonder: are we prepared; could we prevent; and how would we respond to a terrorist attack in Canada?

Authorities are increasingly concerned about the risks - chemical biological radiological and nuclear agents pose to Canada's public health, safety and economic well-being.

The Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear Research and Technology Initiative, known as CRTI, was launched in May 2002. CRTI, led by Defence Research and Development Canada, represents a new best practice model for expertise and leadership in the federal science and technology community. A shift from traditional science policy -- a move towards interdepartmental and external collaboration. A new way of doing business.

Robert Walker, Ph.D:
(Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology), Department of National Defence, Chief Executive Officer, Defence Research and Development Canada)
This program is about providing science and technology that harnesses the full capacity of our innovations systems of our country to deliver results for Canadians. To be able to enhance our ability to mitigate, to protect, and respond to the use of these very deadly kinds of agents against Canadians here in Canada.

The CRTI has two principle thrusts: the creation of Laboratory Clusters and the funding of science and technology projects. Both are designed to bring together communities to effectively counter these threats.

Through the creation of Science and Technology Lab Clusters, backed by CRTI funding, research and technology capacity has been enhanced. Obsolete equipment and dated facilities have been rejuvenated. A CRTI Lab Cluster consists of a group of federal and other government laboratories whose Science and Technology capabilities and capacities synergistically contribute to the preparedness for, prevention of and response to a terrorist attack in Canada that might employ either chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear hazards.

R. Jack Cornett, Ph.D.:
(Health Canada - Radiological/Nuclear Laboratory Cluster Leader)
The reality is that these weapons of mass destruction and other types of terrorist activities do happen in many parts of the world and from all the scientific work we've done, we know that if we prepare in advance, we can reduce casualties, we can reduce the impact on the Canadian, on Canadians, the Canadian economy and that's why we do it.

Ann Fraser, Ph.D.:
(Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Biological Laboratory Cluster Leader)
As we improve our ability or enhance our ability to respond to the intentional threat, we're equally prepared to deal with the non-intentional introductions as well. And that's really important.

Merv Fingas, Ph.D.:
(Environment Canada - Chemical Laboratory Cluster Leader)
In many of the projects we have American partners. In some of them we have United Kingdom partners, in some of them we have partners from other countries and even as far flung as Russia.

Denis W. Nelson:
(Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Forensic Cluster Leader)
One of the actual objectives that I have within our Forensics Cluster, is to be able to provide those regulatory agencies who may be on the frontline with the necessary scientific tools so that they can actually prevent a CBRN event prior to its actual occurrence.

These Lab Clusters support the Government of Canada's role in:

  • threat assessment
  • surveillance, alert and warning
  • crisis management and immediate reaction
  • consequence management
  • criminal investigation
  • and operational preparedness and sustainability.

New funding for technology acquisitions, research and development and technology acceleration projects has brought together partners from all sectors. The projects address 9 investment priorities.

Caption: Science and Technology Dimensions of Risk Assessment

Rachel Fernandez, Ph.D.:
(Associate Professor, Microbiology & Immunology - The University of British Columbia)
Our project involves identifying engineered virulence genes in either bio warfare agents or in innocuous bacteria. CRTI has actually provided a lot of the funding for the project obviously, but more importantly, it's also provided us with liaisons between the National Microbiology Laboratory and with DRDC Suffield.

Caption: Prevention, Surveillance and Alert Capabilities

Michel Jean:
(Director, Operations Branch - Canadian Metereological Centre)
When an incident or a toxic material release occurs in the atmosphere, the airborne transport and dispersion of these hazardous substances are influenced by weather observations and predictions. Indeed, Environment Canada's Meteorological Centre is the main weather prediction centre in Canada. The Canadian Meteorological Centre has been involved in the airborne transport and dispersion of air pollutants for many years.

Caption: Collective Command, Control, Communications, Coordination and Information Capabilities

Amin Kabani, Ph.D.:
(Senior Medical Advisor - National Microbiology Laboratory - Public Health Agency of Canada)
To be able to communicate on what's happening across the country, alerting people on what's happening across the country and then responding to what's happening across the country in a coordinated way. So the project actually focuses on outbreaks, surveillance and intelligence exchange on both intentional and unintentional outbreaks, by terrorist events or outbreaks of SARS for example. A lot of the lessons that we learned from SARS have come to actually make the building blocks of this specific project. So it's got multiple layers to it, all designed to allow coordination, communication, command and control and intelligence exchange.

Caption: Public Confidence and Psychosocial Factors

Louise Lemyre, Ph.D.:
Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences - University of Ottawa)
So the goal of our research program is to factor in all the psycho-social aspects that appear in response to terrorist incidents. Not only in the case of possibly occurring events, but also in view of the longer term response, involving people's perception, behaviour and reaction toward the incident, including first responders themselves or decision-makers - all these elements that are related to terrorism preparedness and prevention.

Caption: Criminal Investigation Capabilities

Carl C.H. McDiarmid:
(Staff Sergeant, Forensic Identification Research Services - Royal Canadian Mounted Police)
With the technology acquisition, it gives the first responders a vehicle by which they can go out and get the equipment that will better suit them for providing a service to the public in general. So if we had an event that occurred in Canada, the first responders would be able to go out and actively participate in mitigating the situation and also investigating the incidents that may have occurred.

Cam Boulet, Ph.D.:
(Director, CBRN Research and Technology Initiative)
We have asked that all collaborations involve two or more partnerships within the CRTI's research program model. So it is a requirement that these partnerships be able to work together on these projects; they must be able to exchange information, expertise and all other available data that these projects generate.

With its infusion of valuable resources into these targeted counter-terrorism projects and its commitment to ensuring excellence at all stages of a project's lifecycle, CRTI enables Canada's effective response to terrorism. It is helping to ensure that first responders have the correct equipment for any eventuality, and is making Canada a much safer place to live.

Caption: Science and Technology for Equipping and Training First Responders

Eva Gudgin Dickson, Ph.D.:
Adj. Assoc. Professor and Senior Research, Dept. of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering - Royal Military College of Canada)
We're working with a couple of different manufacturing groups in the area of designing and certifying equipment for first responders, both specialized suits and specialized helmets that provide the kind of chemical land biological protection that's needed over top of the regular functions they have.

Aris Makis, Ph.D.
(Vice President and Chief Technology Officer - Med-Eng Systems Inc.)
We designed and are in production of a helmet that provides the bomb disposal expert - the first responder - with a capability to address the chemical-biological devices and explosive devices all in one platform.

Caption: Longer-Term Consequence Management

Caroline Dubé, DMV:
(Epidemiologist - Canadian Food Inspection Agency)
It's a project that deals with highly contagious diseases of animals that can be used for bioterrorism. One is foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and classical swine fever. It's a project that is an emergency management system that will store information on farm inspections, keep track of our interventions in peacetime and also in a bioterrorist outbreak, either intentional or accidental.

Caption: Immediate Reaction and Near-Term Consequence Management

Greg Luoma, Ph.D.:
(Chief Technology Officer - General Dynamics Canada)
The first detector we built was the size of a trailer for biological weapons. The most recent one is hand-held, 18 pounds and essentially does the same job. Those are the reasons why this technology's starting to get out into the field.

Caption: Lab Cluster Management and Operations

Eric Pellerin:
(A/Head, Technical Assessments, Coordination Section - Radiation Protection Bureau of Canada, Health Canada)
ARGOS is basically an acronym meaning Accident Reporting and Guidance Operational System. It is a system that is considered to be a decision support system, which means that it will help decision-makers get the right picture in the right perspective to be able to make the proper decisions during or in emergency.

CRTI's initial five year, $170 million dollar initiative is part of the Canadian government's overall 2001 $7.7 billion public security and anti-terrorism package. Currently, the Initiative has over 100 active projects, with more projects receiving funding each year. Many of these projects have been extremely successful and are demonstrating significant results.

Caption: Immediate Reaction and Near-Term Consequence Management

John Cherwonogrodzky, Ph.D.:
(Bacteriologist (BL3) - Defence Research and Development Canada - Suffield)
Ricin is a poison found in castor beans. A few milligrams is enough to kill a person and DRDC Suffield is the only place in Canada that can work with Ricin. Twin Strands Therapeutics Incorporated from Burnaby, B.C. has made a toxoid that is harmless and yet has very similar characteristics to the Ricin poison. Cangene Corporation in Mississauga, they did something remarkably creative and that is they created antibodies in the test tube. And so these could be both (bulk) made. This is a world first for a lot of this technology. And I've tested it in animals and we find that it does work, yes.

Caption: Prevention, Surveillance and Alert

Dean S. Haslip, Ph.D.:
(Defence Scientist, Radiological Analysis and Defence Group - Defence Research and Development Canada - Ottawa)
We're developing a detector that's going to allow us to detect radiation from outside the radiation range, outside the hazard. Now, what the CRTI has enabled us to do is to enable us to develop
a fieldable prototype detector, which at this point it's a little more sizeable but it allows you to detect the radiation from, well we've measured it up to 500 metres away.

Knowledge and results are shared each year at CRTI's annual Summer Symposium. For example, aerial radiological/nuclear surveillance technology was demonstrated in 2005.

Rob Shives:
(Geophysicist - Natural Resources Canada)
So he's flying down the side of the "play" area, and he's detected no hits. No anomalies above-background radioactivity has been detected yet. There we go. We have a hit now. And we're seeing the yellow dots here. We can actually see a spectral plot right here. We can see in the waterfall display that there's been some event here. Very subtle but it's there.

The symposium is an opportunity for some of Canada's most gifted minds from the Science and Technology community to compare notes, exchange ideas, meet with first responders, and to learn about related allied developments.

Robert Walker, Ph.D.:
(Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology), Department of National Defence, Chief Executive Officer, Defence Research and Development Canada)
When we look back to where we were thinking of CRTI, in 2002. In the glimmer of our eye, it was very much about a network of communities working together to deliver capability. We have exceeded our expectations. If we look at the breadth and depth of Canadian participation, the network of industry, academic, government and international partners, it is truly inspiring. This is dollar for dollar one of the greatest and productive investments that the federal science community has realized to date.