Civil Defence

The development of nuclear weapons and the COLD WAR in the 1940s and 1950s forced Canadians to consider even more extensive measures.


Civil Defence

 The problem of protecting civilian populations in wartime grew dramatically with the advent of mass air raids in WWII. Although the threat to North America was negligible, Canada introduced air-raid precautions that provided for active fighter defence, EARLY-WARNING RADAR, blackouts, and rescue and emergency relief organizations. The first peacetime civil defence co-ordinator was appointed in October 1948 to supervise the work of federal, provincial and municipal authorities in planning for public air-raid shelters, emergency food and medical supplies, and the evacuation of likely target areas.

The development of nuclear weapons and the COLD WAR in the 1940s and 1950s forced Canadians to consider even more extensive measures. The Diefenbaker government in 1959 transferred responsibility for civil defence to the Emergency Measures Organization (Emergency Planning Canada 1974-86, which became Emergency Preparedness Canada in 1986) and then assigned all army units in Canada to post-atomic attack evacuation and survival operations.

The next year the government launched a campaign in support of home fallout shelters. Public enthusiasm for such programs soon dwindled: costs were prohibitive, and the odds against survival mounted once the superpowers had more than enough missiles and warheads to destroy the world.

The federal government maintains an attack warning system. Federal civil emergency planning for both war and peace is co-ordinated by the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness (OCIPEP), which replaced Emergency Preparedness Canada on February 5, 2001. The Minister of National Defence is responsible for its administration. The role of OCIPEP today includes responsibility for both physical and cyber environments. Civil defence relies on the services of the DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE (DND), the RCMP and the CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (CSIS).

Co-operation between the federal government and provincial/territorial governments is ensured by the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP), established in October 1980 and administered by OCIPEP.

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, initiated a renewed commitment to ensuring Canada's security. Canada's CRIMINAL CODE clearly defines terrorism and terrorist activities and includes provisions to target terrorists and terrorist groups.

See EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS.