Units: 0
Level: Upper year

Class Schedule



Official description:
Critical analysis of the concept of national security, defined as the protection and preservation of a state's values, institutions and the well-being of its citizens in the face of such threats as armed attack, terrorism, natural disasters or other emergencies. Examination of Canadian and international laws governing efforts to preserve national security. The laws of the United States, the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions will also figure in the discussion. The conflict between national security imperatives and human and civil rights at both the international and national level will be a key preoccupation of the course.

Detailed description:
There is no single universally accepted definition of national security. For purposes of this seminar, we adopt a working definition: national security is concerned with the protection and preservation of a state’s values, institutions and the well-being of its citizens. It is a concept that has a strong association with law enforcement and military preparedness, and sometimes co-exists uncomfortably with the rule of law. Defined in this way, national security can be seen to be an expansive concept with profound consequence. The very flexibility that ensures it is able to adapt to changing circumstances can be the source of uncertainty, even abuse.

This seminar focuses a critical eye on the Canadian context. We examine Canadian laws and efforts to protect and preserve our national security. United States, United Kingdom, European and other international laws also figure in the discussion. In this semester, we focus specific attention on the law governing: the mandates of Canada's security and intelligence agencies and services; terrorism; weapons of mass destruction; cyber-security, espionage and foreign influenced activities; deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces; national security secrecy; intelligence-gathering; national security surveillance; intelligence-sharing within Canada and internationally; administrative measures relating to national security (such as no-fly lists); and national security detention.

Teaching Method:


Additional information on the teaching method delivered in this class:

As well as focusing on the content of national security law, we will place an emphasis on legal skills relevant for policy oriented lawyers. Students will learn how to prepare effective parliamentary briefs and simulate testimony in parliamentary proceedings. Because of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be possible to participate remotely (through Zoom) in the class sessions for this course. Synchronous participation in these sessions (either in person, if possible, or through Zoom) is mandatory.

Materials Used:

Craig Forcese & Leah West, National Security Law (Irwin Law, 2d Ed, 2020).

Method of Evaluation


Other Type of Evaluation:

Evaluation will done through seminar participation and small writing assignments and presentations geared to public policy lawyering. The balance of the course mark will be determined by a lengthier writing project. Because this is a January term course and students will have a very limited window in which to the complete their work, the written project will be shorter than a full term paper, and will not qualify for a "major paper".


Final Exams:

Exam type: None

Exam duration:


Method of evaluation for graduate students:

Graduate students are expected to complete a book review, in addition to the other work required for this course.