Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ottawa Should Fix Broken No-Fly List

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ottawa Should Fix Broken No-Fly List

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Ottawa should fix broken no-fly list


An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Nov. 7:

The first time Sebastian Khan was delayed at the airport, submitted to extra scrutiny because his name appears on Canada's no-fly list, he was travelling with his parents. That was by necessity. He was six weeks old.

The airline eventually decided that young Sebastian posed little threat to national security and allowed him to board the plane, but the same absurd saga has played out again and again for him and hundreds of others, both children and adults, caught up in the broken Canadian Passenger Protect Program.

Sebastian's parents, along with the families of other kids who share names with suspected terrorists, were in Ottawa on Monday, lobbying the government to move quickly to address their plight. Some of these families have been struggling for more than a decade, despite their clear innocence, with the inconvenience, embarrassment, fear and sundry other burdens that come with being the subject of state suspicion. The government should finally act.

You would think it would be relatively simple to distinguish between a suspected terrorist and, say, a baby with the same name. But under Canada's current system, you'd be wrong. Unlike in other countries, Canada's no-fly list, created in the post-9/11 security panic, contains no disambiguating identifiers such as passport numbers, dates of birth or gender, but only names. Also unlike in other countries, there is no formal system for redress for people incorrectly identified as a possible terrorist.

Understandably, those plagued by false positives want the list to be updated to include unique identifiers and for a redress system to be quickly established. These proposals not only make eminent sense; the government's persistent failure to enact them is quite possibly unconstitutional.

In response to the families' pleas, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale pointed to improvements to the system promised in Bill C-59, the government's sweeping security reform legislation. For instance, under the current rules, airlines are charged with checking flight manifests against the no-fly list. …

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