discussing and debating national security

Ep 84 An INTREPID Podcast Special Part 3 -- Foreign Fighters and Counter Violent Extremism Interventions

Stephanie and Craig are very pleased to welcome Michael King to the show, for our oft-promised third episode in our study of foreign terrorist fighters. Our purpose in this series is to canvass the range of possible legal and policy responses to foreign fighter returnees. In episode 73 we walked through the facts on the ground in this area, with a focus on Canadians who affiliated with Daesh. In episode 74 we considered the international law issues around their detention in Syria by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Canadian law issues surrounding their prosecution in Canada. In this episode, we examine the question of what happens if prosecution is unavailable, for reason of insufficient evidence or because the person’s conduct may not have crossed a criminal law. Still, these people have affiliated in some way with a terrorist group — and have radicalized to a point of accepting violence. Even where people are prosecuted, they will be sentenced to a finite term, raising questions of rehabilitation. To address these questions and more, Michael joins us from the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence, based in Public Safety Canada. We talk briefly about the Centre’s on-going work, before diving into the phenomenon of radicalization to violence, the policy dilemmas associated with returning foreign terrorist fighters and the question of “disengagement” from violence versus “deradicalization”. Michael walks through the social science in this area, as well as the various initiatives taking place in Canada. Thanks to Michael for becoming an INTREPID alum!

Ep 83 The INTREPID Crib Notes on Information Warfare and Countering Hybrid Threats

In the last week of March, just in time for exam season, Stephanie sat down in Ottawa with James Pamment, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Strategic Communication at Lund University and a senior adviser to the Hybrid COE in Helsinki. James leads a small research team that provides training, scenario exercises, process and policy support to governments and international organizations in protection from election interference, disinformation and hybrid influence techniques. In this conversation, Stephanie and James get into the weeds on hybrid influence, with a focus on Russian activities. A good primer for that end of the term cramming!

Ep 82 An INTREPID Podsight -- Mr Justice Richard Mosley of the Federal Court

Stephanie and Craig are honoured to welcome to the show Mr Justice Richard Mosley of the Federal Court. We spend a lot of time on INTREPID talking about the national security jurisprudence of the Federal Court. This was our opportunity to sit down with one of the most experienced and respected Federal Court “designated judges” (who hear security cases) to talk about what it is like to be a judge in the national security space. We start with a brief overview of Justice Mosley’s distinguished career, and then launch into a discussion of CSIS warrants and Canada Evidence Act proceedings — all from the judge’s eye view. Justice Mosley explains the role the Court plays in providing independent oversight in these areas, as well as giving us an inside peek into a “day in the life” of a busy Federal Court judge, and some of the challenges of national security judging. This is not one to be missed. Thanks to Justice Mosley for welcoming us to his chambers, and for sitting down with us (and our listeners).

Ep 81 Newszilla The Return -- Catching up with the tsunami of news

Stephanie and Craig are back to update issues we’ve been following. First up, an update on bill C-59’s pilgrim’s progress through the senate. This week the news is good! Next up, reflection on the horrific terrorism attack in New Zealand and the issue of right wing extremism and terrorism. After that, a catch up on what is happening in the Meng extradition case — a source of considerable friction between Canada and the China. That then leads to a discussion of Huawei and the 5G question — there have been some developments among allies on that complicated issue. And that’s a wrap! For length reasons, we needed to leave other headline issues for another podcast — tentatively called Newszilla 3.

Ep 80 Taken -- The INTREPID Podsight

Stephanie and Craig are pleased to welcome to the show Andrew Ellis, VP Corporate Strategy of EVNTL, and a former Assistant Director of Operations at CSIS until 2016. Andy walks us through the world of open source corporate intelligence and what he has learned transitioning from government service to the private sector. We then spend the bulk of the podcast talking about the overseas kidnapping and hostage-talking of Canadians. This has a very difficult area for years, and Andy shares his views on what can be done to minimize the risks, and what Canadian policy should look like. To avoid terrifying you on your travels, we chose to release this podcast after March Break!

Ep 79 Views from the ‘Shwa: Far Right Extremism and the Future of Terrorism Studies

Stephanie welcomes to INTREPID two great guests (with an Oshawa connection!). First, Barbara Perry from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, one of Canada’s leading experts on far-right extremism, and recent recipient of a grant from Public Safety Canada to study the phenomenon. Second, Veronica Kitchen of the University of Waterloo and Acting Director of the Canadian Network for Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS), speaking about the future of terrorism studies in Canada.

Ep 78 Kafka and the No Fly List

“Someone must have had the same name as 5-year-old Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he found himself on Canada’s No Fly List one fine morning.” There is a human face to national security law and policy. Stephanie and Craig are honoured to welcome to INTREPID three of the family members behind the grassroots “No Fly List Kids” campaign: Khadija Cajee; Heather Harder; and Zamir Khan. On INTREPID, we talk a lot about hard dilemmas. A no fly list that flags people sharing the same name as a listed person — including small children — and provides no redress system is not one of them. Instead, it reflects the legacy of bad administrative choices. We set out the legal and administrative history and then talk to the family members about their experiences, their efforts and their concerns — including over the fate of bill C-59, the bill that must pass to create the legal superstructure for fixing this Kafkaesque trainwreck.

Ep 77 Who Wants to Get into Your Data?

Stephanie and Craig are very pleased to welcome to the show Jason Besner, Director for Threat Assessment and Planning at the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, part of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE). Jason talks about the Centre’s December 2018 report “National Cyber Threat Assessment 2018”, available here: This follows up from an earlier discussion of this report in Ep 67. On the agenda in this episode, the Centre’s assessment of: cyber crime; threats to Canadian businesses; cyber threats and critical infrastructure; cyber foreign influence activities and the issue of actual cyber attacks, with impacts in the real world. Lots of rich material in here — including advice on how to avoid cyber threats. Thanks to Jason for walking us through this topic, and for becoming an INTREPID alum.

Ep 76 Newszilla -- The Terror Crime Edition

Stephanie and Craig have a lot of news to catch up on. In this episode, they catch up on developments in the world of terrorism and hate crimes, with a focus on several recent sentences in such cases. First, though, they talk about the Kingston arrest and terror charges for a youth, something that happened in late January. They then talk about the appeal in the Hersi terrorism case, the sentence in the “Canadian Tire” terrorism case, the “Your Ward News” hate crime conviction and finally, a deep dive into the recent Bissonnette sentencing (the 2017 Mosque shooting). They talk about sentencing principles as they apply in terrorism cases, and generally. And then raise concerns (and disappointment) with the way the court in the Bissonnette approached sentencing and the question of terrorism and ideologically motivated violence.

Ep 75 Can Democracy Survive Social Media

House of Commons Ethics and Privacy Committee co-chair Nathaniel Erskine-Smith took time out of a jammed schedule to talk to Stephanie and Craig about the Committee’s December 2018 report: Democracy Under Threat: Risks and Solutions in the Era of Disinformation and Data Monopoly. We talk about Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica and AIQ scandal, privacy and political parties, foreign electoral interference and the way forward in addressing social media companies and their effect on democracies. Thanks to Nate for coming on the show.

Ep 74 An INTREPID Podcast Special Part 2 -- Detaining and Prosecuting 'Foreign Fighters'

In this second episode in the INTREPID “foreign fighter” special series, Stephanie and Craig focus on the legal issues. First, friend of the podcast, MGen (ret) Blaise Cathcart, Canada’s former Judge Advocate General, returns to the podcast from Nova Scotia to talk about the detention of Daesh fighters (and others associated with Daesh) by the Kurdish forces in Syria, and the application of the “law of armed conflict” (or “international humanitarian law”). Then Michael Nesbitt, from the University of Calgary law school, walks us through the various terrorism offences in the Canadian Criminal Code and how they might apply to the Canadians who return from Daesh. Thanks to Blaise and Michael for coming on board!

Ep 73 An INTREPID Podcast Special Part 1 -- The Who and What of 'Foreign Fighters'

Stephanie and Craig are joined by terrorism researcher extraordinaire Amar Amarsingam, the man with more data on Canadian foreign fighters than anyone else in the public space. In this, the first of a special series on “foreign terrorist fighters”, we look at who the people were who left Canada to join Daesh; what has happened to those extremist travelers in Syria and Iraq since and what we know about those who are currently being detained by the Kurds; and what patterns we have seen with returnees. There is a lot of misunderstanding out there, especially on the latter issue. We try to drill down into the details. [This episode was recorded on Thursday, Jan 25]

Ep 72 Caught in a Trap and They Walk Out

In this special deep dive into the law of “entrapment” and terrorism cases, Craig is joined by his uOttawa law school colleague Carissima Mathen. They talk about police “stings” and the difference between the Mr Big confessional sting and the sorts of stings that may raise concerns about entrapment. They then discuss the rules on entrapment — there are basically three types of entrapment that constitute an abuse of process and will cause a case to be tossed. Then they look at how entrapment issues have come up in terrorism cases like Hersi and the Via Rail prosecution, before turning to a detailed discussion of the case that was tossed for entrapment: Nuttall and Korody. (The decision of the BC Court of Appeal upholding a lower court finding of entrapment was released in December.) They end with some thoughts about the implications of this decision for police anti-terror investigations — and CSIS threat reduction.

Ep 71 Building up Your Immunity

Stephanie and Craig are back for a quick podcast as they develop big plans for the next couple of weeks. In this podcast, we walk through Minister Goodale’s speech this week…which has some pointers on a couple of issues we’ve been discussing: cyber attribution policies (the Minister called out the Chinese Ministry of State Security); the scope of an expected new bill on cyber standards; and who is going to be the honest broker when misinformation happens during an election. And then we get into our marquee issue, for the real aficionados of obscure international law out there: is the former Canadian diplomat being detained by China in apparent retaliation for the Meng extradition proceeding entitled to diplomatic immunities — the answer is yes, of a sort. Finally, a quick talk about a breaking story: a permanent resident given permanent residency status despite security concerns.

Ep 70 Event Horizon 2019

We’re back with the first episode of 2019. Thanks for sticking with us in a brand new year. We’re using this episode as a catch-up on issues and stories we’ve been following, and things that have come up since our last update podcast. Here, we talk briefly about planned reforms of RCMP oversight; updates in the Huawei saga; the fate of the Ford anti-terrorism bill; Ralph Goodale’s December speech and the prospect of a new law of some sort on cybersecurity; the first annual report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (now with the Prime Minister); what we’re looking for in the Peshdary terrorism case and the Huang espionage case; and some future-casting on election-related issues, with a final comment about the death threats being uttered by supporters of “Yellow Vest Canada”. Lots of doom and foreboding in this episode, but all done in good cheer.

Ep 69 Top Secret Santa: The INTREPID Christmas Caper

TS/SI/CEO – Top Secret/Santa Intelligence/Christmas Eve Only. [BEST NARRATOR VOICE:] At the top of the world, in the frozen Arctic wastes, an oasis of Christmas cheer in Santa’s Magical Kingdom stands threatened. Dark forces lurk, as a stellar cast of Christmas villains — and Bob from Mordor — plot a massive surveillance operation targeting those Canadians on Santa’s naughty list. Can the Canadian security and intelligence community foil this conspiracy, lawfully of course? Gather around your earpods this holiday season for the first ever INTREPID Christmas Caper. And we will see you again in the New Year. Thanks for being our listeners in 2018!

Ep 68 What to our wondering eyes should appear ... more national security reports

We spend our pre-holidays reading, so you do not. It’s terrorism report day on A Podcast Called INTREPID. We circle back to the CSIS director’s speech two weeks ago to tease out the discussion on terrorism issues. Then we do a diagnostic of the 2018 Terrorism Threat to Canada report. We argue about it a little, nitpicking all the way, before talking about the “45 Day Report” on foreign fighters tabled by the government in the House of Commons, also last week. Then to keep things jolly, we dive into the new Canada Centre (against a lot of bad radicalization to violence things — it’s a long title) report on countering violent radicalization, but end with a discussion with Jessica Davis about the new, and unprecedented FINTRAC report on threat financing. This is our penultimate podcast for 2018. But we’ll be back with our “Christmas special” next week.