Yesterday, the CDSN and CSIDS held the Year Ahead, which is an annual conference in Ottawa (and beyond). The idea is to address some of the challenges likely to arise in the next year. We consult our various partners in and out of government to get a sense of what those challenges are.* We built a program focusing on:
- Grey zone warfare--attacks from the usual suspects short of conventional war--cyber, disinformation, etc Our two panels focused on the legal dynamics (do the various actors have authority or not) and what our allies are doing. Leah West, my colleague at NPSIA, organized the first. I corralled the second panel and had Rachel Babins of the new organization Emerging Leaders in Canadian Security moderate the second. Key insights here:
- international law is not as much of an obstacle to reacting to this stuff as some think.
- that maybe the Russians and Chinese are worse off now as they have alienated much of the planet;
- Our fireside chat focused this year on Islamophobia and National Security, and was organized by a new group--Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security-Canada.
- That Muslims are less likely to turn to the government if they fear that the government will destroy their sons.
- That creating a crime focused on terrorism mostly put a target on the backs of Muslims even as far right white folks hurt more Canadians. Indeed, Muslims have been victims of terrorism more so perhaps than any other group in Canada [except, I am guessing, women]
- the government seems super fast when it imposes new policies and laws that are harmful to Muslims, but slow to introduce reforms, such as getting innocent kids off of no-fly lists.
- Changing the culture of organizations. Our directors of the CDSN Personnel Theme, Irina Goldenberg and Stéfanie von Hlatky, organized this panel, which consisted of experts in and out of government.
- culture is a verb as well as a noun
- Our final panel focused on nature-triggered emergency operations in Canada.
- the trend in major emergencies is just astonishing--a very steady increase over time, including six this year.
- greater clarity about why militaries seem to be the go-to: timeliness, competence, efficiency, and so on.
We will be issuing a report on the event in the new year--our research assistants took better notes than I did as I was focused on the event and the various complications. We were not used to doing a hybrid event so we didn't have a way to tell the moderators that time was running out, for instance. You can check it out for yourself: here are the English and French videos of the entire event.
It was definitely worth it ** to hold the event as a hybrid. We were able to get participants from other parts of the world via teleconference, and we had more people watching online than in person. The in-person component was quite valuable as there were plenty of conversations in between the sessions, and we squeezed a lot into the day that we could not have if we were doing it online. So, the best of both worlds, I think.
I am very, very grateful to our CDSN team for making this work so well. Kaha, Melissa, Paxton, Racheal, Rose, and Gabriel were terrific. And having others organize and moderate the panels worked out great.
* This post is being written on the road so I am not going to post pictures (they are on another device or the names of everyone)
** Of course, if people end up catching COVID due to our event, then the costs/benefits calculation shifts....