Security management in Canada: what are the strengths and weaknesses?
Chair: Martin Gill
Tim McCreight – National Director, Market Development and Strategic Advisory, CGI
Candyce Kelshall – President, Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies – Vancouver
Jody Reid – Security Manager, H&R REIT
Jody Reid notes that the pandemic put the spotlight on security and as such there was more awareness amongst security professionals of operating in a changed context and for (some) stakeholders a greater visibility of security work. So too there were some impressive public and private partnerships at work. Yet, at the same time, some of the traditional issues which have plagued security didn’t go away and have re-emerged albeit sometimes in a changed guise. Staffing is an issue, low wages remain common, attracting recruits a challenge, all the more so because the older generation is retiring earlier creating a big gap to fill. Security professionals similarly are not good at selling security, this is as much true externally as it is upwards and outward to internal key stakeholders. Meanwhile volunteer leadership in associations has its limits and you will hear Jody outline the importance of paid representation.
Candyce Kelshall speaks from a different area of security, her specialism is competitive intelligence and intelligence training. Yet many of the issues are the same with regards to national security. For example, staffing issues are a challenge and this is more than a concern just about wages this is about staff having a grievance over the lack of attention to welfare issues (or ‘wellfare’). Candyce invites security and the world it operates in to pause and think about the type of security it wants, and the types of responses that are appropriate for a modern context, which is also true of law enforcement. In terms of threats we are warned that Canada is under attack from a threat that is sinister, serious, under the radar and barely recognised, soft violence. Divisions are further fuelled by different groups opposing each other on a range of issues (e.g. vaxers versus anti vaxers), it creates division and distrust (including in protection agencies). There is a need to think innovatively, recognise people’s civil liberties, and engage diversity. Indeed, engaging with people and recognising different perceptions of security and how it can best respond is key.
Tim McCreight highlights the rallying role security played in the early stages of the pandemic uniting the responses which lessened over time. To the point that Canada is starting to see hate crimes, while a range of cyber threats have added to the security challenge. There has been a need, in fact a longstanding one, for security to listen more closely and you will hear Tim discuss the human element. Key also is fully understanding the needs of different parts of the organisation and be able to relate to them, this means being able to meaningfully engage with executives and professionals in others areas. He advocates involving different non security skillsets to deliver security. He notes that he has seen a change in the way security leaders lead to a situation where they are more aligned. In so doing he underlines his advocacy of ESRM. The good thing is that nowadays security is being talked about as a profession.
The panellists covered a varied territory. At the end of the webinar they each presented their main wish and priority for change. It generated an interesting insight into the issues that merit attention and also underlined the importance of raising awareness about what security at its best can do.
24th March 2022