Last updated on October 24th, 2020

Last Updated on October 24, 2020 by Steven Meurrens

This episode contains an overview of the history of national security law in Canada, starting with the MacDonald Commission and the October Crisis of 1970, the formation of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, the Air India bombing, the Arar Inquiry, 9/11, and Bill C-51.

We also discuss the roles of CSIS, the Communication Security Establishment, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canada Border Services Agency, in administering Canadian national security legislation.

Finally, Professor Roach provides an in depth analysis of several controversial elements of the previous Conservative Government of Canada’s Bill C-51, and the current Liberal Government of Canada’s response under Prime Minister Trudeau.

Kent Roach is a Professor of Law and the Prichard-Wilson Chair of Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. He is a Member of the Order of Canada and is considered to be one of the foremost experts on national security legislation in Canada.


Kent begins by providing an overview of national security law in Canada, starting with the MacDonald Commission and the October Crisis of 1970, the formation of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, the Air India bombing, the Arar Inquiry, 9/11, and Bill C-51.

He then summarises the roles of CSIS, the Communication Security Establishment, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Finally, Kent provides an in depth analysis of several controversial elements of Bill C-51, and the current Liberal Government of Canada’s response.

His book, False Security The Radicalization of Canadian Anti-terrorism, can be found here.

The paper that he authored which he references throughout the podcast, Righting Security: A Contextual and Critical Analysis and Response to Canada’s 2016 National Security Green Paper, can be found here.  Its abstract reads:

This article responds to the Canadian government’s 2016 consultation on national security law and policy. It outlines a series of concerns, both with laws enacted in 2015 (and especially bill C-51) and some interpretations of C-51 and other laws in the consultation documents. It urges the need for a systematic and contextual understanding of the many issues raised in the consultation. For example, information sharing and increased investigative powers should not be discussed without attention to inadequate review and accountability structures. Similarly CSIS’s new disruption powers need to be understood in the context of the intelligence and evidence relationship. The article proposes concrete and significant changes to the current legal and policy regime motivated both by civil liberties and security-based concerns.