Is there such a thing as a Canadian critical security school? As Miguel de Larrinaga & Mark B. Salter suggest in their manifesto, a number of scholars have a longstanding engagement with security studies in Canada and should not be ignored (10.1080/21624887.2013.864911). In their detailed presentation of the Canadian academic field of International Relations, de Larrinaga and Salter highlight how a Canadian tradition predates largely the supposedly critical shift opened in security studies by the 9.11 attacks and their consequences. What de Larrinaga and Salter suggest as well in their manifesto is that, despite its heterogeneity in terms of research interests, this wide-ranging community of scholars arranged around four nodes (MacMaster, Ottawa, Victoria, and York) do not only share a common “critical sensibility” towards security issues and debates but is also at the heart of the international relations community in Canada. In his short reply to the manifesto, Kim Richard Nossal agrees on the fact that there is considerable pluralism within the IR community in Canada, but he is less convinced by the point made by de Larrinaga and Salter on how the Canadian critical security studies could be at the heart of Canadian IR community (10.1080/21624887.2013.850243). In his article, Peter Stoett welcomes the point made in the manifesto on the necessity to remind the readers about the well-established Canadian tradition of fine scholars who have engaged critically with security studies (10.1080/21624887.2013.850246). Like Kim R. Nossal, Peter Stoett is also doubtful about the centrality of critical security studies in Canadian IR. He goes even further when suggesting that despite the importance of Canada-oriented events in the elaboration of a critical agenda, it is largely the Anglo-American ‘war on terror’ that has raised critical IR voices in Canada. In his contribution, Alex MacLeod acknowledges the importance of tracing the Canadian legacy of critical contributions in IR(10.1080/21624887.2013.850247). MacLeod’s concern, however, is more with what de Larrinaga and Salter call “critical sensibility” on one hand and the peculiarities of the contemporary history of Quebec and its subsequent impact on the evolution of the French-Canadian security studies’ agenda of research. As MacLeod reminds us, Security studies in Quebec remained solidly mainstream for much of the 1990s and the critical turning point emerged in relation to transatlantic collaborations initiated post 9.11, in the mid-2000s (http://conflits.revues.org/1506). In her reply to the manifesto, Heather A. Smith makes a case about the affects and effects of naming and bordering a community under the label of critical and about the constricted articulation made in the manifesto between feminist contributions and human security (10.1080/21624887.2013.850248). In his contribution Wayne S. Cox reckons that Miguel de Larrinaga and Mark Salter’s manifesto shows that security studies in Canada are clearly differentiated from their counterparts in the US, and to a lesser extent, than those of the Paris and Copenhagen Schools (10.1080/21624887.2013.850249). Where Wayne S. Cox sees a line of reflection to be developed is the fact that the resulting critical focus within Security Studies is merely a reflection of a wider gulf between American and non-American IR and the desire by Canadians to develop an understanding of security as a non-American social science. David Grondin’s contribution available in English (10.1080/21624887.2013.856541) and in French (10.1080/21624887.2013.856554), re-joins Alex MacLeod’s concerns on the Francophone dimension of IR in Canada and the vitality of the études critiques de sécurité au Canada et au Québec. In Grondin’s words, “Francophone voice for Canadian critical security studies remains to be done”. In his article Wilfrid Greaves puts the emphasis on the history and development of the Canadian critical environmental security agenda of research and how, eventually, this huge research should be at the core of any Canadian approach to critical security studies (10.1080/21624887.2013.864893). In their contribution, Cameron Harrington & Emma Lecavalier follow Greaves’ main argument on the diversity and quality of environmental security research in Canada (10.1080/21624887.2013.856197). Harrington and Lecavalier’s answer to the manifesto of a Canadian critical Security studies common agenda lies for them in the possibility to re-engage with the nexus security/emancipation as established by the Welsh school.
This special issue of Critical Studies on Security offers more questions than answers on what the Canadian critical security studies is supposed to be and how it is to be taken forward. In that sense, Miguel de Larrinaga & Mark B. Salter’s manifesto should be praised as a healthy and astute move. Nonetheless and as provocatively but firmly suggested by Peter Stoett in his reply, there is still “a need for a real manifesto” to be written. A manifesto that would provoke interchange and debates across the different, sometimes isolated, always contentious fragments that make up the security studies enterprise in Canada today is to be done. A manifesto that would engage with the crucial issue of the penalizing effects at stake when border-drawing a particular intellectual space without engaging with the import-export mechanisms between national and international arenas of knowledge exchange. Finally, a manifesto that would engage seriously with the practice and meaning of what is a manifesto: a collective work.