SSC Seminar Series: Dennis Molinaro (Trent University)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

12:30 – 2 pm

Mackintosh Corry Hall D411 

Dennis Molinaro

The Bridge in the Park: Reflections on Law, Security and the Normalization of Surveillance

Security has often been used as a justification for the creation of a host of laws and regulations, some public, some secret. While we can debate the necessity of the measures, we can also challenge the notion that security exists as a universally recognized term and instead interpret it as an ideological construct. Taking a historical approach, this talk will explore security as ideology during the creation of Section 98 of the Criminal Code and the PICNIC wiretapping program. Section 98, originally part of the War Measures Act, became a law designed to outlaw unlawful organizations and target sedition as defined by the government during the inter-war period. Its public creation and repeal reveal how fear led lawmakers to believe that law could keep the country secure from ideologies they viewed as threatening. The PICNIC surveillance program came into existence through a secret regulation following World War II. The surveillance scheme was created and maintained out of the belief that knowledge acquired through surveillance would keep people safe. In both examples, one a public law, the other a secret one, the ideology of security contributed to the normalizing of what were once considered emergency wartime measures i.e. policing politics and mass surveillance.

About the speaker:

Dennis Molinaro holds a PhD from the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the use of emergency power in peacetime as well as the connections between security, citizenship, and nationalism. His latest book is An Exceptional Law: Section 98 and the Emergency State, 1919–1936, published by the Osgoode Society of Canadian Legal History and the University of Toronto Press. His latest research on Cold War surveillance, made national headlines and has been published in the September 2017 issue of the Canadian Historical Review. He is a Roy R. McMurtry Fellow.


Everyone welcome!