Airport whistleblower has security clearance revoked

CBC News

A man who worked at the Ottawa International Airport and who called security at the facility an "illusion" and "customer-service based" on CBC's The Fifth Estate has been stripped of his security clearance, a move that could cost him his job.


Airport security worker, Bill Butler

Bill Butler, who worked as a passenger screener for a private company called Aeroguard, was suspended with pay when the story was broadcast last fall.



Butler attempted to return to work on Dec. 3 as scheduled, only to be told by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) that his security clearance had been revoked.

He was barred from returning to his duties until he is re-certified, and is scheduled to take the rigorous exam next week.

Butler says he knows what he's doing, but he's still worried about the test.

"Are they going to try to mess me up and try to fail me just to get rid of me, so that I'll shut up?" he said.

The 1-day training course has been specifically designed for Butler by CATSA.

A letter from CATSA says the course will include four hours of on-the-job training, tests on procedures, and information sessions that focus on "correcting any misperceptions" Butler may have about CATSA's security rules.

If Butler fails any part of the exam, he cannot receive a passing grade and must wait a year to retake it.

Without the certification, he can't work as a passenger screener.

His union has filed an application for a judicial review of CATSA's decision with the Federal Court of Canada.

In a letter to Aeroguard, CATSA wrote that it was "seriously concerned" by the views expressed by Butler on CBC.

Particularly troubling to the agency was Butler's suggestion that screening officers have a "price" and could be "convinced to sell out."

Senator Colin Kenny, one of Canada's most vocal critics of airport security, says Butler may have broken his contractual obligations to keep quiet.

"But we've been saying for a long time is that our airports are like sieves," said Kenny, who also appeared in the Fifth Estate story. "So, what this guy had to say, I would think, would be obvious to anyone with eyes to see."