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BCCLA opposes a Canadian “no-fly list”

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The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is calling upon the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Transport to cease the behind-closed-door development of a Canadian “no-fly list”. The Association is calling on the Government to immediately hold nationwide public consultations on the controversial air passenger screening system.

According to BCCLA Policy Director, Micheal Vonn, “The Government is capitulating to U.S. pressure to fall into line with increasingly invasive and extreme “security measures”. In this case, the system we will be copying is a useless piece of security theatre that can’t tell the difference between famous U.S. Senators and actual terrorists. The U.S. no-fly list has had a devastating impact on thousands of ordinary citizens who have been flagged by the system mistakenly or because they have a name that sounds like a name on the list. These people are now unable to board an airplane or are subject to highly intrusive questioning and searching before being allowed on a plane. And like a Kafka nightmare, they can’t find out how they got on the list and can’t get themselves off the list.”

The BCCLA says that the U.S. experience shows that no-fly lists are invasive, harmful, potentially discriminatory, and do nothing to enhance national security. Even more troubling, “no-fly lists” may represent a foothold for an electronic infrastructure for unprecedented traveler surveillance.

BCCLA President, Jason Gratl: “Perversely, the U.S. is using the legendary failure of no-fly lists as an excuse for developing an even more intrusive system of traveler surveillance that includes routine background checks and security rankings for every single traveler. Not only is Canada preparing to follow the U.S. by introducing a no-fly list, but we appear to be spending millions to create the technological infrastructure to follow the U.S. into an unprecedented system of mass traveler surveillance.”

The Association is calling on the Government to explicitly put before the Canadian public the plans which are underway. As stated by Gratl: “There is no security emergency or threat that could justify the current pace of change without meaningful public consultation. The perception that the hijacking attacks on September 11, 2001 justify any and all security measures is at an end.”