NEWS: NDP Rejects Harper's No-fly List

Civil liberties and personal privacy of Canadians are at stake

OTTAWA – NDP Transport Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster) and Public Safety Critic Joe Comartin (Windsor—Tecumseh) are demanding that the federal government scrap the newly-instated no-fly list that bans those deemed a “security risk” from boarding an aircraft.

“There is clear and compelling evidence that the no-fly list does not and will not work,” said Comartin. “It provides only the illusion of safety. There are no built-in checks and balances that would protect Canadians who are accidentally placed on the list. The creation and maintenance of the no-fly list is also swathed in total secrecy.”

The list, provided to all airlines that have flights landing or taking off in Canada, was modeled after the American no-fly list, on which there are nearly a 100,000 names. The principle of Canada’s no-fly program falls within the framework of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) initiative which promotes a deeper integration with the United States.

“The no-fly list will roll back our civil liberties with a steep increase in racial and religious profiling. What is at stake here is the respect, dignity, and rights of every Canadian, particularly those of Arab descent and Canadians of the Muslim faith in communities from coast to coast to coast,” Julian stated.

Currently, the transport minister is guessing that “roughly between 500 and maybe 2,000” Canadians are on the list. More than 100,000 people are on the U.S. no-fly list, including pre-schoolers, peace activists, and – for a time – at least two Canadian MPs and U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.

The NDP is deeply concerned about the public safety of our citizens and is calling for the strengthening and reinforcement of airport ground security systems, including better training of personnel and more comprehensive luggage and freight screening, as is the case in the European Union, which has rejected the principle and practice of no-fly lists.