Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No-fly list poses risks

  • Print

Canada's no-fly list, officially known as the Passenger Protection Program, doesn't seem to have caused a lot of uproar with the travelling public since it was introduced in 2007. In fact, there is only one known incident of a passenger who was refused boarding because he might have terrorist connections, although the validity of the allegation is in dispute.

It's possible other people have been turned away at airports because their names were on the Canadian list, but Public Safety Canada, which took over management of the no-fly list from Transport Canada earlier this year, hasn't provided much information on the program. In fact, it won't even say how many names are on the list, which some estimates have pegged at between 500 and 2,000 individuals. That's a lot of potential threats for a country like Canada, assuming they are valid.

The idea of such a program was unavoidable following the events of 9/11 and the escalation in the war against terrorism, but the government had an equal obligation to ensure it did not abuse its authority or the rights of Canadians. At this point, in the absence of fuller disclosure, it's impossible to say if the government is achieving the proper balance between security and democratic rights.

A person's name will end up on the list if they have been identified as being involved with a terrorist group, or if they have been convicted of crimes against aviation security or aviation personnel, the government says. But according to documents obtained under access-to-information laws by Canadian Press, the criteria are much broader. Anyone "who directly associates with" an alleged extremist, for example, could end up on the list. The risk is that an innocent email exchange or telephone call could result in a lifetime airline ban.

Anyone who feels they have been falsely labelled can appeal to the Office of Reconsideration (another name that is unfortunately Orwellian), but it can only issue a recommendation. In the one known case that was appealed, outside investigators determined that the individual did not deserve to be on the list, but the government still refused to remove the name.

So far, the no-fly list has avoided the kind of major foul-ups that have become common in the United States, where children and famous people have been caught up in the government's web, but Ottawa needs to ensure it uses a rigorous process before tagging people as potential threats. Governments generally have poor track records in these matters, as can attest anyone who ended up on the American watch list in the past because of suspected Communist sympathies.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 11, 2011 A12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Doug Speirs trains for role in Nutcracker

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A gaggle of Canada geese goslings at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg Monday- See Project Honk Day 05- May 07, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald has entered the NDP leadership race, do you believe the "gang of five" rebel ministers were right to publicly criticize Premier Greg Selinger's leadership?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google