Transition Time 2019

Two thousand and nineteen will, of course, produce a new Parliament -- Canada's 43rd. It will, therefore, be the season of transition preparation in the public service -- and a good time for taking stock (and for filing access to information requests for all those informative ministerial briefing books).

It will also bring a bumper crop of Canadian national security scholarship. Stephanie Carvin, Thomas Juneau and I look forward to the publication of our book on the Canadian security & intelligence community. Stephanie and Thomas have other joint and separate projects that will produce excellent new resources on Canadian national security practices. And with Leah West, I look forward to publishing the long-delayed second edition of the book that justified this blog site: National Security Law (Irwin Law). (The timing of that book depends on the fate of bill C-59.)

With that task accomplished, it will be time to consider the future of Canadian national security blogging. The Canadian academic national security space now has grown -- albeit modestly -- since this blog began in 2007. And other platforms -- such as Twitter -- and forums -- such as our Podcast Called INTREPID -- now consume time and attention. Postings on this site have become more infrequent.

On the other hand, I have considerable evidence from structured conversations that blogging remains the single best means of "knowledge mobilization" in the public policy and law space. Contrary to the views of others, I do not think blogging is dead.

But it should change. The "my musings and commentary" style of blog has probably seen its day, replaced by Twitter. There is still room, however, for the research and analysis blog. In the United States, Lawfare and Just Security point the way. They share these qualities: (1) collaborative, with postings by academics and practitioners; (2) timely, responding to current events and helping shape "hot takes" in a direction helpful to the reality-based community; (3) robust but not inaccessible, written for generalist audience but helpful to a specialist cadre; (4) curated, if not truly peer-reviewed, ensuring quality-control. Unlike this blog platform (a product of Me Myself & I LLP) they are also resourced (which helps reduce the frequency of typos).

I *think* four things now make it possible to replicate this model in Canada. First, the scholarly community willing and able to engage in public-facing discussions may now have enough members to make such a platform sustainable. Second, sensible academic units now acknowledge the significance of a public-facing presence. Not so long ago, writing for a policy or general audience was (in some places) prejudicial to academic advancement. That conceit now seems more muted. Third, the government and the security & intelligence services are much more attuned to public discussions than they were in the near past. The illusion that we benefit from siloed cloisters may now be evaporating. That shift could turn on a dime, especially if 2019 marks a reversion to a more closed government. But I am inclined to think practitioners (present and past) might engage on and with a platform with the four above-noted qualities. Four, other collaborative academic blogs exist, but they are often stovepiped by institutional affiliations and are broad, rather than deep, in subject matter focus. Our experience with A Podcast Called INTREPID is that there is an audience for detailed national security obscurity and geekery.

That leaves the issue of resources. I am not interested in being an editor -- nor, given my inability to proof-read, am I qualified to be one. Everything then depends on helping hands.

I have begun approaching bodies who might be interested in providing an editorial foundation for a collaborative Canadian national security law and policy blog -- which I hereby entitle "A Blog Called INTREPID". The editorial approach would be modeled on that of student-edited law reviews. And the idea would be to twin a dynamic Lawfare/Just Security-style content, with our existing podcast. The platform would also consolidate various collateral products, such as my Secret Law Gazette and the various instructional videos that Leah West and I anticipate producing as the online feature for our National Security Law book. I also need a home for the database of state self-defence justifications prepared by my research assistant Peter Knowlton as a project related to my Destroying the Caroline book. And I know other scholars may be on the hunt for a similar depository.

Put in other words: by 2020, this space may have its own transition. Stay tuned.