Canadian Intelligence Eh!

Is terrorism becoming ‘socialised’ in Canada?

Is Canada putting too much under the terrorism rubric with serious consequences for trying to stop it?

Episode 222 – Why language matters when it comes to terrorism

Terrorism is a scary concept: hell, it is based on the word ‘terror’. As a consequence the way we talk about it is important. Of late, the vocabulary used to describe terrorism has shifted and crimes not normally seen as having a nexus to terrorism are included under its canopy. In Canada there has been a significant, and not necessarily helpful, recasting of the language deployed to cover terrorism. What is happening here? Borealis talks with a former CSIS analyst about these issues.

About my guest

John Gilmour is an instructor on terrorism, counterterrorism, and intelligence, with the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute and Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA). He served for 37 years in the federal government, first with Transport Canada as project manager and analyst for airport security programs, then in a post in the Security and Intelligence (Operations) section of the Privy Council Office as a senior policy analyst. He then joined the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) serving most recently as the Head of Strategic Planning and Operational Analysis in the Counter-Terrorism Division. Dr. Gilmour also serves an advisor and instructor for domestic and global clients with distinct national security and law enforcement program requirements. John holds a BA from Carleton University, and a MA and PhD in War Studies from the Royal Military College (Kingston) He serves as a Director for the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies – Vancouver, and as a Fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network. He is on the editorial board for the Journal of Intelligence, Conflict and Warfare, and he occasionally serves as a commentator for national media on issues of national security.

Canadian Intelligence Eh

In a world of multiple voices and opinions it can be very hard to know where to turn.  One choice is to look to those who actually worked in counter-terrorism in the national security world. 

In these half-hour podcasts, 30-year Canadian intelligence veteran Phil Gurski is joined by a fascinating array of individuals with something meaningful to say about these issues as they provide insight into what they mean and what we need to do about them.

About Phil Gurski

Phil worked as a senior strategic analyst at CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) from 2001-2015, specializing in violent Islamist-inspired homegrown terrorism and radicalisation. From 1983 to 2001 he was employed as a senior multilingual analyst at Communications Security Establishment (CSE – Canada’s signals intelligence agency), specialising in the Middle East. He also served as senior special advisor in the National Security Directorate at Public Safety Canada from 2013, focusing on community outreach and training on radicalisation to violence, until his retirement from the civil service in May 2015, and as consultant for the Ontario Provincial Police’s Anti-Terrorism Section (PATS) from May to October 2015.

He was the Director of Security and Intelligence at the SecDev Group from June 2018 to July 2019 and the Director of the National Security Programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute from 2020-2022. Mr. Gurski has presented on violent Islamist-inspired and other forms of terrorism and radicalisation across Canada and around the world.

He is the author of The Threat from Within: Recognizing Al Qaeda-inspired Radicalization and Terrorism in the West (Rowman and Littlefield 2015) Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security (Rowman and Littlefield 2017), The Lesser Jihads: Taking the Islamist fight to the world (Rowman and Littlefield 2017), An end to the ‘War on Terrorism When Religion Kills: How Extremist Justify Violence Through Faith (Lynne Rienner 2019) and The Peaceable Kingdom? A history of terrorism in Canada from Confederation to the present (self-published: 2021, republished by Double Dagger in 2022). He regularly blogs and podcasts (Canadian Intelligence Eh!), and tweets (@borealissaves) on terrorism and intelligence matters.

He was an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter Terrorism (ICCT) in the Netherlands and is currently a digital fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies at Concordia University. He is also a visiting fellow at the International Security and Risk Management programme at the University of South Wales

Mr. Gurski is a regular commentator on terrorism and intelligence for a wide variety of Canadian and international media.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.