A Podcast Called INTREPID

Discussing and debating Canadian national security law and politics

Ep 50 He Remains a Canadian in Spite of Aberrations to Belong to Other Nations

Stephanie and Craig find the national security in everything. After a brief update on the Abdelrazik case and a discussion of the controversial question of whether the trial will involve “closed material proceedings” (in which the plaintiff is excluded) and an update on a recent Ottawa terrorism peace bond that wasn’t, they pick up the thread on citizenship and national security. This discussion is motivated by the Vavilov case — involving the sons of Russian spies who assumed Canadian identities now fighting for Canadian citizenship. We’ve talked about this saga before, but this week, the case has been tied into a broader public debate about “birthright citizenship”. We try to unpack the different legal and policy issues associated with the way Canada gives citizenship. And then, to round out the episode: we couldn’t resist jumping on the “notwithstanding clause” (s. 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) bandwagon. But we address the question: does s.33 mean a Parliament could actually enact a redo of the infamous War Measures Act? Lots more we could have said on all these issues. And probably will in the future.

Ep 49 Loose Lips That Could Have Sunk Ships

Stephanie and Craig are back for season 2 of "A Podcast Called INTREPID". In this first episode of the new season, we catch up on developments in August, and then look forward to things that will be happening in national security law and policy world this Fall. We begin by discussing the Jeffrey Delisle case -- the espionage case from earlier in this decade, now back in the news because Mr Delisle was released on parole in August. We talk about the nature of his spying, the investigation into it, the criminal law issues, and the policy matters they raise (including, of course, intelligence to evidence, and the supplemental "graymail" issue of espionage trials). We then talk briefly about the Five Eyes ministerial statement, "Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption", released in August. We think this is a bit of a 'nothingburger' in terms of furthering the debate on encryption and the "going dark" issue. And of course, we can't start off the new season without talking about August's Saudi Arabia meltdown. We offer thoughts this on what this event might say about Canada's foreign intelligence needs. We end the podcast talking about things we'll be watching this Fall: developments with bill C-76 (election law and security) and C-59 (the major national security law overhaul); the first National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians report (out soon); and two trials (Abdelrazik civil lawsuit against Canada and the Norman criminal trial). Thanks for joining us again for INTREPID and we hope to keep earning your listening time.

Ep 48 iSpy with my Little Intelligence Services bound by Strict Rules

In this final podcast of INTREPID's season 1, Stephanie and Craig catch up on some recent developments in the national security space. Cabinet has been shuffled, and a new portfolio – Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction – added. Lots of people have views about the politics of the shuffle, but we’re your source for the geeky machinery of government discussion. Next up, a public opinion survey commissioned by CSIS reveals most people can’t specifically identify CSIS but have faith in it. We get into some of the weeds – there are important aspects of the survey. But our big topics are these: a walk through the recently-issued annual report of the Communications Security Establishment commissioner, CSE’s review body. What can we glean from it about some of the issues and challenges CSE confronts in its activities? And our really big development: a new Federal Court decision on CSIS’s investigative powers, this time in relation to its “section 16” “foreign intelligence” mandate. Does the decision produce a “gap” in CSIS’s intelligence gathering capacities? We do some “INTREPID Speculative Storytime” to leap over the heavy redactions in this case and address this question. And then to end, we talk about real stories for the lake or beach: books that we recommend or which are on our own summer reading list. And that’s a wrap for season 1. Our plan is to be back with season 2 in September. In the meantime, we are genuinely gratified by reviews on iTunes and elsewhere that suggest we’re not completely wasting our time.  And since we’re sponsored exclusively by good karma, please spread the word about INTREPID!

Ep 47 Calling in the Big Guns

The Canadian Armed Forces is off to Mali on a peace-making mission. And with forest fire season in full swing, it may be that the CAF will be called out to assist in disaster relief sometime in the next weeks. So, in this podcast, Stephanie and Craig invited Major General (ret) Blaise Cathcart, Canada’s former Judge Advocate General, to walk us through how CAF deployments work. We focus first on the international dimension, examining: how the Prime Minister and Cabinet can authorize an international deployment; the means of civilian control over the military; the scope of the “crown/royal prerogative” over defence, and its broader significance; and whether international deployment standards should be legislated. We then pivot to domestic deployments, ranging from assistance to law enforcement at major international conferences such as the G7 through to public service in respect to assisting in disaster relief. On this topic, we examine the assortment of rules that govern how these deployments are made and the powers and responsibilities that the CAF has in them. When the military turns out, there is a whole machinery that has been kicked into motion. Listen in if you want to understand all the moving gears.

Ep 46 An INTREPID Podsight with Ambassador Sabine Nolke

Stephanie and Craig are honoured to welcome to Intrepid Ambassador Sabine Nolke, Canada's Ambassador to the Netherlands, and Canada's permanent representative to the international courts based in the Hague and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). In this "podsight", Ambassador Nolke describes her career at Global Affairs Canada and then the work of the OPCW in combating chemical weapons use and proliferation. Ambassador Nolke discusses the challenges of dealing with Russia and its allies on issues of chemical weapons use in Syria and Salisbury, England, and discusses new developments at the OPCW in terms of investigating chemical weapons use. This is a terrific inner-peak into the world of international security diplomacy, what Canada does in this space and challenges in combating the scourge of chemical weapons. Thanks to Ambassador Nolke for becoming an Intrepid alum!

Ep 45 Show Me The Money

Stephanie and Craig are joined by Jessica Davis (@JessMarinDavis), former FINTRAC and CSIS analyst, and author of "Women in Modern Terrorism" and a forthcoming book on threat financing. Lots discussed here, including: "why is combating threat financing important"; the issue of prosecutions (or lack of them) in Canada for terrorism financing; the concept of "financial intelligence" or FININT; the skill set of a good FININT analyst; and terrorism financing and ISIS.

Ep 44 War of the Words

Stephanie and Craig welcome two terrific guests back to the show: Major-General (ret) Blaise Cathcart (Canada's former JAG) and Leah West (in her pre-law days, an ops officer with the Canadian Armed Forces). Today, we circle back to a topic we addressed in Ep 11: "targeted killing". Our return to this topic is sparked by Stewart Bell's reporting at Global on a 2015 Canadian government memo discussing the "the strategic issues associated with the targeting of enemy combatants who are also Canadian citizens in Op IMPACT, the CAF contribution to Coalition Operation INHERENT RESOLVE efforts against" ISIS. Stephanie and Craig begin with a typology of how the term "targeted killing" has been used in the literature and a description of the 2015 memo. They then bring in the guests to discuss the overall tactical targeting process for the CAF, its policy origins, and how targeting packages are determined and vetted. They focus on the concept of "armed conflict", and the applicable law of armed conflict (LOAC) (otherwise known as international humanitarian law or IHL). They address: the distinction between killing in an armed conflict and outside an armed conflict; the meaning of armed conflict and the thresholds for it and its geography, who you can kill in an armed conflict and whether there are constraints on that; how one distinguishes between a combatant (who can be targeted) and a non-combatant (who cannot); and the challenges of figuring out who is directly participating in hostilities in a hot conflict. They end with a discussion on the extent to which the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would apply in an armed conflict situation; and a brief discussion of intelligence sharing and targeting. This is our longest ever podcast, and violates our "no longer than 45-50 minutes" standard. But there is so much rich discussion in here with our terrific guests that we did not have the heart to cut. Hope you feel the same.

Ep 43 An INTREPID Podsight: Scott Jones, Head (designate), Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, CSE

Stephanie and Craig welcome Scott Jones, Deputy Chief of IT Security at the Communications Security Establishment and now the incoming Head of the new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, based at CSE. We talk about Scott's background and his roles in government and at the CSE, before launching into a review of the new Centre, its mandate and functions. Our focus is on cyber security and defensive cyber, and Scott walks us through how the new Centre will work in that space, not just with government but also the private sector. Scott discusses the cyber security challenges, especially for small and medium enterprises and in the critical infrastructure sector. Then we talk about "artificial intelligence" -- what is, is it here, and what does it mean in the cyber security area? And we end by shifting states (sorry) and talking about quantum computing and its implications for cryptographic security. This is a romp through what was once science fiction, and now just plain science. Another jammed-pack session, and Scott is the person you want to hear from on all these matters. Our thanks to Scott for becoming an Intrepid alum.

Ep 42 Chasing Down the News Cycle

Lots happening in the national security law and policy world. Stephanie and Craig try to keep up with developments.  After a brief update on earlier matters discussed in prior podcasts, they walk through things that caught their eyes in the new report by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), CSIS's review body. Things like datasets, for example. ("That old chestnut!" -- sorry National Security Law Podcast). They then talk two trials that should be in trial court, but aren't yet, really: Peshdary (a terrorism case, started but now adjourned) and Huang (an espionage case, not even started). Feel free to stare into the middle distance as Craig waxes on about the intel to evidence issues in these two cases, based on recent superior court and Federal Court of Appeal decisions. They end with a few words on a new civil lawsuit launched against Canada and alleging negligence in relation to the 2016 death in a terror bombing in Afghanistan of Nepalese Ghurka security forces retained to provide security at the Canadian embassy.

Ep 41: An INTREPID Podsight: Bob Paulson, former Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Stephanie and Craig are very excited to welcome Bob Paulson, RCMP Commissioner between 2011-2017 to the podcast. This is a rich discussion: anyone with an interest in national security policing will want to listen -- but not just the national security side of things. We start by covering Bob's career and experience in the RCMP; what it's like to run the RCMP; the structural challenges the force faces; how policing has changed (and especially the disclosure requirements); and the skill sets for a modern RCMP. We then dive into the national security side of things. Yes, of course we cover intelligence-to-evidence, this time from the perspective of a police officer. We talk about RCMP/CSIS cooperation and how it has improved and where the challenges still lie. And we get into the weeds on the challenges of terrorism investigations, and especially investigating foreign terrorist fighter returnees. We also talk about the "going dark" issue -- encryption and its effects on investigations. And we address: what it's like to do anti-terrorism in a zero tolerance environment, where public perception of the relative risk from crimes tends to emphasize terrorism over other pressing issues; cyber crime and policing; and the importance of the independence of police from political intervention. Did we cover enough? If we did, give us a shout-out on iTunes reviews and tell others about Intrepid! And thank you to former Commissioner Paulson for becoming an Intrepid alum.

Ep 40 Broken News: Catching Up to the Headlines at Least to Late May

Stephanie and Craig sat down in late May (before Stephanie disappeared on a well-deserved holiday) to catch up on some issues in the news. We talked about: Vice News and journalist privileges and source material, a case before the Supreme Court; the case that the Supreme Court has now agreed to hear on whether the children born to Russian "illegal" intelligence agents can retain their Canadian citizenship; Aecon and the investment blocking order on the Chinese takeover that Canada has issued on national security grounds; a fuller discussion of the Ayanle Hassan Ali terrorism case; and, for those who stick around, a brief chat on upcoming projects.

Ep 39 Keeping the Ghost out of Canada's Electoral Machine

Craig voted in the Ontario election today, and joked with the scrutineer that he hoped the Russians weren't hacking the Ontario electoral officer's counting machines.  Because if they were, that would be a cyber security integrity threat. (He was assured the machines were safe from the internet).  In this podcast, Craig and Stephanie discuss the various dimensions of cyber security -- confidentiality, integrity and availability -- using an escalating 2019 federal election hypothetical to examine the policy and legal issues.  They end by discussing what, if any, fixes are found in the new Canada Elections Act amendments offered in the new bill C-76.  Their bottom line: We Need A Plan So That We Aren't Making It Up As We Go.

Ep 38 An INTREPID Podsight: Ritu Banerjee, Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence

Stephanie and Craig are pleased to welcome Ritu Banerjee, Senior Director, Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence, Public Safety Canada. Ritu discusses the work of the Canada Centre in relation to radicalization of violence, and Canada's various programs designed to offer "off-ramps" for those radicalizing to violence. These are the tools used for "non-criminal" space, prior to criminal thresholds (eg to terrorism offences) being crossed. Other topics discussed include the challenge of terrorist disengagement among offenders incarcerated for terrorism offences, peace bonds and foreign fighter returnees. The focus of this podsight is the preventive side of the anti-terrorism spectrum. Lots in here to ponder.

Ep 37 Fifty Shades of Terrorist Ideology

In the wake of the Quebec City shootings, the Toronto van murders and other recent tragedies in the news, Stephanie and Craig decided the time has come to try a walk-through how the Canadian Criminal Code defines terrorism.  And so we talk "terrorism offences", "terrorist activity", "terrorist groups" and other concepts in criminal law, and debate (endlessly it might seem) whether these concepts could reach, for example, the Toronto van murders. Along the way we manage to work in foreign fighter returnees, the recent court decision in the Canadian Armed Forces recruitment centre attack and how the CSIS Act concept of terrorism is a bit different from that in the Criminal Code, in manners that might matter for CSIS investigations. Lots in here. Sorry.

Ep 36 An INTREPID Podsight: CSIS Director David Vigneault

Stephanie and Craig were very pleased and honoured to welcome David Vigneault, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, as our guest in this latest "podsight". Over the course of nearly 50 minutes, Director Vigneault talked about his background in the security and intelligence community, his current position and its demands, the role of an intelligence service in a democratic society governed by the rule of law, the evolving composition of CSIS, the functions of intelligence in national security in the complex security environment, and contemporary challenges (including intelligence-to-evidence and the "going dark" issue).  These were important observations -- not to be missed by anyone trying to understand national security and intelligence in Canada.  Many thanks to the Director for carving out this time in his demanding schedule and for joining us at Intrepid Studios.

The Director faces forward. Stephanie is on the left. The bald head is Craig, who doesn't want to blow his cover by revealing his face. Photo used with permission.

The Director faces forward. Stephanie is on the left. The bald head is Craig, who doesn't want to blow his cover by revealing his face. Photo used with permission.

Ep 35 Zzzzzz-59: The Carvin & Forcese Clause-by-Clause of C-59 Amendments

Ok, dear listeners, someone needed to do it: Stephanie and Craig march through the amendments to bill C-59, the massive national security law overhaul that we spent many of our earlier podcasts dissecting. These amendments are hot off the press, having been passed by the Commons Standing Committee on National Security and Public Safety, and the bill is now back in front of the full Commons (after which it needs to go to the senate). So miles yet to go, but the amendments do clean up quite a bit that caught our eye in our earlier discussions. So, we need to do a reprise. Now, admittedly, it's hard to make this scintillating. But its the cod-liver oil of podcasting. Enjoy! (Stephanie is responsible for this week's title.)

Ep 34 An INTREPID Podsight: Mylène Bouzigon & Jennifer Poirier from the National Security Litigation & Advisory Group, Justice Canada

Stephanie and Craig welcome to our latest "podsight" Mylène Bouzigon & Jennifer Poirier from the National Security Litigation & Advisory Group, Justice Canada. Mylène and Jennifer discuss the important role of legal advisors in the practice of national security in Canada, focusing particular attention on the process of obtaining CSIS search and seizure warrants in threat investigations. They talk in particular about the special expectations on lawyers and CSIS in terms of candour to the court. They also share thoughts on the evolution of national security law and emerging concepts of privacy in the new information-rich, technological age. This podsight is full of fascinating detail rarely discussed outside of specialized circles -- and highlights the centrality of law in a national security system based on the "rule of law". Thanks to Mylène & Jennifer for joining us and becoming Intrepid podcast alum!

Ep 33 An INTREPID Podsight: Blaise Cathcart, QC, Major-General (Retired), former Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces

Late last week, Stephanie and Craig were very pleased to invite to the podcast Blaise Cathcart, QC, Major-General (Retired), Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces (2010–2017). This is a jam-packed discussion. If you're interested in knowing more about how law and policy interact in Canada's national defence space, it is not to be missed. Among other things, Blaise provides a thorough & fascinating overview of: the role of the JAG; the manner in which legal advice is organized in government; law and inter-operability with Canada's allies; the new review and accountability framework for the Canadian Armed Forces, given the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and the proposed C-59 review agency; the CSE's proposed offensive cyber capacity and international law; and the place of law in the use of force (including a small debate at the end with Craig on the Syria missile strikes discussed in Ep 32 -- please listen to that first to understand the context. This final topic focuses on whether humanitarian intervention has "crystallized" as customary international law.)  Thanks to Blaise for becoming an Intrepid Podcast alum!

Ep 32 Scaring Assad Straight...Or Shooting Missiles At Our Own Feet?

Stephanie and Craig invite Jeremy (Jez) Littlewood, from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton and Bessma Momani from the University of Waterloo & the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) to talk about Syria, chemical weapons and missile strikes. Jez walks us through the facts on the ground, based on what is known about chemical weapons use in Syria, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Bessma considers the political implications of the US, UK and French missile strike this past weekend. Craig and Stephanie then pick up the thread and talk about the international law issues on use of force. This is a jam-packed podcast -- thanks to Jez and Bessma for taking time away from grading and other things to lend their expertise.

Ep 31: An INTREPID Podsight: Ray Boisvert, Ontario Provincial Security Advisor

In our latest "podsight" episode, Stephanie and Craig are joined online by Ray Boisvert, the Provincial Security Advisor of Ontario. Ray describes his career -- starting at the RCMP through to his senior role at CSIS. He discusses the new Office of Provincial Security Advisor, its mandate and functions.  And at various points in our conversation, Ray addresses cyber security, federal/provincial cooperation on critical infrastructure, and the provincial role in responding to radicalization to violence & terrorism.