Over the past year the Canadian Security Partners’ Forum (CSPF) has spread across Canada. Sixteen regional structures later, the Forum is actively moving into its next phase, with the regional structures launching independent activities and the Forum filling additional identified needs within Canadian security.

The Forum now plugs-and-play’s with some 106 security and security-related associations across the country, some 66 in the National Capital Region alone.

Some regions within Canada are not so fortunate as to have a similar foundation of association presence and activity. In areas where there is not a critical mass of association presence and activity, the Forum network, while not itself an association, is able to provide some of the functions of associations in the interim – creating critical mass for the regional security community while helping the associations build up their membership base and presence. Once the security community in an under-integrated region is able to establish a foothold, the Forum steps back and supports local lead.

The Vancouver Island Security Partners’ Forum is a case in point. It held its inaugural event on September 21 in collaboration with the Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council, titled “Convergence of IT, Security and Business Continuity to Create Resiliency.”

Likewise, the Greater Toronto Security Partners’ Forum launched its inaugural event on November 28, with the Institution of Fire Engineers, called “Life Safety Trends, Gaps & Considerations within your ‘Best Practice’ Security Management Program.” The Greater Vancouver Security Partners’ Forum will launch its activities on January 28 in Burnaby, with the Private Investigators Association of BC, with an event on emerging security trends, notably cyber security and social media. Both of the northern Forum structures, the Yukon Territory Security Partners’ Forum and the Northern Canada Security Partners Forum in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, are currently working to launch inaugural events in March/April 2013.

In addition to regional gatherings, the CSPF will hold a national-tier event on February 7 in Ottawa, the second annual CSPF Women in Security Lecture Series. This dinner event will celebrate women in security, and promote the ideals of security and the human element that is the backbone of Canadian security. The evening will bring together all disciplines and domains within security (national security, defence, law enforcement, public sector, private sector and public safety). Last year’s event sold out and over 50 people were turned away at the door, indicative of the appetite for engagement in security

All this demonstrates the demand for leadership in this community. In fact, the demand for executive level training was one area of need identified and acted on by the CSPF. In September, the Forum, in collaboration with the Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership in Ottawa, launched the NCSPF Security and Intelligence Executive Lecture Series. Some 90 security and intelligence executives from five provinces have registered in the first four months of the initiative alone. Well over 30 government departments and agencies are represented among participants to date, in addition to the participation of some 30 private sector executives.

The Chatham House rule, by-invitation series provides the executive level interaction with key leaders in the field from Canada and abroad, such as Judge William H. Webster, current chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the only individual to have served as director of both the CIA and the FBI. The initiative fosters interaction amongst executives themselves, which is key to seamless integration of the Canadian security community, both in the public and private sectors.

The initiative is being run at exceptionally low cost to allow for participation in lean times, and the demand has been exceptional. Both Toronto and Vancouver are preparing to launch their own executive series in 2013.

In addition to executive learning, the Forum has been approached to contribute to and help shape conferences with increasing frequency. The CSPF served on the industry advisory board for the Reboot Privacy, Access and Security Congress in October in Ottawa; is an industry supporter and on the steering committee for the International Disaster Conference and Expo 2013 Conference in New Orleans this January; will co-host the INFONEX Canadian Emergency Management Conference in January in Ottawa; and will provide support to AltSecCon in Halifax and PortSecure this May in Ottawa.

The CSPF’s move into its second stage of development makes for very exciting times within Canadian security – even more so since the Forum has yet to “turn on the engines.” The appetite for engagement at all levels among the Canadian security community is clear and deeply encouraging.

Bonnie Butlin is the executive director of the Canadian Security Partners’ Forum.