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Martin to present Canada’s first-ever “national security policy” in meeting with U.S. President Bush

Prime Minister Paul Martin will meet with U.S. President George Bush on Friday this week and will present Canada’s first-ever national security policy with aim to reassure the U.S. Canada is addressing security isssues.

The policy, a 50-page document, released April 27, addresses maritime security, intelligence gathering and public health, among other areas, and sets aside nearly $700-million for a series of new measures such as biometric passports, the establishment of a national security round table to liaise with minority groups, and a new fund for the promotion of “peace, order and good government” in so-called “failed states” abroad, reports the National Post.

Martin will also speak to congressional leaders during his short visit to Washington. The Prime Minister said security will figure prominently on the agenda.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, meanwhile, dismissed accusations from opposition leaders that the policy is a sop to the United States and said the policy is aimed firstly at Canadians, and secondly at our allies, who will be reassured to know, “Canada takes security seriously.”

The policy spells out how the government plans to spend $690-million over the next five years on enhancements.

The biggest expense is for enhancements to maritime security, which could receive up to $308-million. Some $165-million will be aimed at setting up a series of marine security operations centres, which will co-ordinate operations between the Coast Guard, the Canadian Forces and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. There is another $100-million to expand the scope of both aerial and maritime surveillance and money to improve security at major ports and on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Ottawa is also setting aside $137-million for “intelligence enhancement” at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment, which conducts electronic surveillance.

There will also be $85-million to protect critical government computer networks from cyber-attacks, $130-million for the RCMP’s real-time fingerprint identification program, and $10.3-million for the passport biometrics program, which will embed tiny microchips in passports that contain the digitized photo of the document’s owner.

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