About this Project

This blog comments on Canadian (and occasionally comparative) national security law to update my National Security Law textbook and now also my 2015 book, False Security: The Radicalization of Anti-terrorism, co-authored with Kent Roach.

Please also see www.antiterrorlaw.ca for Bill C-51-related analyses by Craig Forcese and Kent Roach.

For narrated lectures on various topics in national security law, please visit my 2017 "national security nutshell" series, available through iTunes.


For a continuing conversation on Canadian national security law and policy, please join Stephanie Carvin and me at A Podcast Called INTREPID.


Please also visit my archive of "secret law" in the security area.

By Craig Forcese

Full Professor
Faculty of Law

Email: cforcese[at]uottawa.ca

Twitter: @cforcese


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Latest Book: Available from Irwin Law in April 2018.


About the Author

Craig Forcese
Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa

Craig Forcese is an associate professor in the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa, where he teaches public international law, national security law, administrative law, and public law and legislation and runs the annual foreign policy practicum. Much of his present research and writing relates to international law, national security, and democratic accountability. Prior to joining the law school faculty, he practiced law with the Washington D.C. office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, specializing in international trade law. Craig has law degrees from the University of Ottawa and Yale University, a B.A. from McGill, and an M.A. in international affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University. He is a member of the bars of Ontario, New York, and the District of Columbia.


National Security Law: Canadian Practice in International Perspective

National Security Law is a comprehensive handbook that focuses on the law and legal instruments governing the Canadian state’s response to events that jeopardize its "national security." Specifically, these are events or plausible threats with the potential to inflict massive injury on life and property in Canada—terrorism, natural disasters and epidemic disease, and foreign attacks and domestic insurrections.

National security law is governed by a vast array of federal and provincial statutes. But this text, part of Irwin Law’s Essentials of Canadian Law series, also draws on core international, constitutional, and common law doctrines and the comparative legal experience of other states. In addition to describing in detail the applicable legal principles, the book flags key dilemmas and challenges that run through national security law. It also critically assesses certain issues of contemporary relevance, such as the use of armed force, torture, government secrecy, surveillance, intelligence information sharing, and detention without trial.

National Security Law is divided into three main parts along the following themes:


  • national security structure (that is, the special institutional infrastructure—both national and international—set up to deal with national security issues);


  • national security objectives (that is, the law related to several specific threats that the state seeks to curb or forestall, including terrorism, weapons proliferation, political emergencies and natural disasters); and


  • national security techniques (that is, the law governing such practices as government secrecy, surveillance, intelligence sharing, detention, and interrogation).


The book is up to date through August 2007, but also includes updates on key developments arising during the production process through to the end of October 2007. In addition, author Craig Forcese has created an on-line blog describing and assessing ongoing developments in the area of national security law: www.nationalsecuritylaw.ca.

Summary Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1: Defining National Security
CHAPTER 2: Dilemmas in National Security

CHAPTER 3: The Institutional Framework for National Security Law
CHAPTER 4: The Institutional Framework in Times of Emergency

CHAPTER 5: Protecting against International Insecurity and Armed Attack
CHAPTER 6: Countering Terrorism at the International Level
CHAPTER 7: Countering Terrorism at the National Level
CHAPTER 8: Limiting Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
CHAPTER 9: Protecting Public Safety and Health

CHAPTER 10: Secrecy
CHAPTER 11: Surveillance
CHAPTER 12: Intelligence Sharing
CHAPTER 13: Interception and Interdiction
CHAPTER 14: Detention
CHAPTER 15: Interrogations


"This book fills a notable vacuum in Canadian legal writing.... [I]t should ... be at the elbow of every Canadian security intelligence officer, law enforcement official, government policy-maker, elected politician, lawyer, or judge who must deal with national security issues in their professional life."

-- Ronald G. Atkey, P.C., Q.C (first chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee 1984–89 and Amicus Curiae to the Arar Commission 2004–2007)

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