OTTAWA–A Canadian "no-fly" list of
people to be barred from boarding domestic and
international airline flights is set to take effect
June 18, just as the busy summer flying season gets
The move, nearly six years after the
9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, amounts
to a flight blacklist of people "reasonably
suspected" by federal officials as immediate threats
to the safety of commercial aircraft, passengers or
Under the rules, as passengers check
in for flights, whether at kiosks or counters, their
names will be automatically screened against the
government's list, known as the "Passenger Protect"
The no-fly list will be drawn up by
Transport Canada, with input from the RCMP and CSIS.
If a name is red-flagged as a
possible match with a name on the no-fly list, the
traveller will be directed to a flight agent, who
will contact Transport Canada for a decision on
whether to allow boarding. Airlines are responsible
for protecting the passenger's confidentiality.
People denied access to a flight
will be able to challenge their inclusion on the
list, but in the short haul, they will be grounded.
And the airport or local police will be notified.
Critics say the plan will not make
air travel safer, and will likely lead to the kinds
of "false positive" identification of people that
has plagued a similar list in the United States. The
most celebrated example involved Massachusetts
Senator Ted Kennedy, who was barred from boarding a
flight when he was wrongly identified as being on
the list. Infants have also been banned.
'Any review is useless if you don't have enough
information to contest it'
Joe Comartin, NDP MP
The federal government says it will
provide a "non-judicial and efficient" mechanism for
individuals to appeal their listing through a
Transport Canada "Office of Reconsideration."
That office "may" submit the file
for review by an independent external adviser, who
was not part of the initial identification of the
name for the list. The adviser would be expected to
make a recommendation to the minister on whether the
person stays on the list within 30 working days.
And if the person still contests the
decision, they "have the option of pursuing other
legal avenues ... such as the Federal Court," say
the documents. That presumably means first seeking
the court's leave to apply for judicial review.
Details will be outlined in
government regulations to be published next week,
but Conservative Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon
and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day unveiled
parts of the package via news release yesterday.
The new rules will apply to all
passengers "who appear to be 12 years of age or
older." The government says that is consistent with
the definition of a child under Canadian law
(Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act).
Overseas travel already requires a
passport. For domestic travel, passengers will
require one piece of valid government-issued photo
ID that shows name, date of birth and gender, such
as a driver's licence or a passport; or two pieces
of valid government-issued non-photo ID, at least
one of which shows name, date of birth and gender,
such as a birth certificate.
Lawyer Lorne Waldman, who
represented Maher Arar, added that until now, the
Canadian government has appeared to have an informal
list that forced people like Arar through extra
security until he was exonerated of all suspicion by
Justice Dennis O'Connor.
"Maher, every time he flew and until
the (O'Connor) report was released always had to go
through extra security screening. Clearly there was
some kind of list being used. We believe it was
likely just Canadian airlines using the U.S. list."
Arar, an Ottawa engineer, was
detained in 2002 during a stopover at New York's JFK
airport and sent to Syria where he was held without
Waldman questioned whether any
process for challenging the listing of an
individual's name could work, given that
intelligence information would be kept secret on the
basis of national security.
The information for each listed
person is to be reviewed at least once every 30
days, the government says.
"The consequences to people in our
society today – especially where being able to move
from point A to point B is often essential for
people to earn their livelihood – can be quite
serious," said Waldman.
New Democrat MP Joe Comartin
(Windsor-Tecumseh) said it was clear from past
committee testimony by government officials that
there is no intent to allow the government's
information to be viewed by the individual targeted
"or give you any reasonable mechanism to get off the
"My first question is who are the
independent people going to be and are they going to
have access to the information – or are they simply
going to have an intelligence officer come forward
and say `We have information this person is a threat
and it's national security information so that's all
we're going to tell you.' That's exactly what I
would expect would happen.
"Any review is useless if you don't
have enough information to contest it."
Privacy Commissioner Jennifer
Stoddart has already expressed concerns about the
government's plan, warning in August 2005 that it
could be a "serious intrusion into the rights of
travellers in Canada, the rights of privacy and the
rights of freedom of movement."
She was unavailable for comment
yesterday, but her spokesperson Florence Nguyen said
"our views are still the same."