Maher Arar, Canada’s most famous victim of torture, was unable to use an automated Air Canada check-in kiosk and flagged for “selected security screening” flying from Montreal to Edmonton. This has been happening to more and more Canadian citizens. Librarians, pastors, journalists, people of all walks of life are suddenly finding barriers to their ability to fly within their own country. The evidence is mounting that airlines are using the notorious U.S.”no-fly list” within Canada.
Jason Gratl, President of the BC Civil Liberties Association: “That this has happened to Mr. Arar is a sickening irony. We are awaiting the findings of an inquiry into Canada’s alleged complicity with Mr. Arar’s rendition to torture by the United States. That Canadian airlines are likely using a “watchlist” compiled by the country responsible for Canadians’ rendition to torture is outrageous.”
The BCCLA wrote to representatives of Transport Canada in May calling for an investigation in to complaints that Canadian citizens were being discriminated against by the use of the infamously inaccurate U.S. no-fly list domestically, within Canada.
Gratl: “Most of the complainants we are aware of appear to be no security threat of any kind, guilty only of having unfortunately common names. We call on the government to stop the industry that it is required to regulate from perpetrating practices that impair the equality and mobility rights of citizens.”
The BCCLA opposes no-fly lists in principle, arguing that the U.S. no-fly list is an unmitigated disaster. There appears to be not a single piece of evidence to suggest that such lists increase public safety and a volume of experience showing serious and persistent rights abuses.