We have argued in this space that no-fly lists shouldn’t exist at all. Either someone is charged with and convicted of a crime, in which case their movements are already restricted, or they should enjoy the same rights as any other citizen.

But now that Canada’s Passenger Protect program has become a reality – the list went into effect yesterday – the debate should focus on the rules of the game. The no-fly list is still being fiercely contested. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, for instance, is the most vocal, fearing with justification that such a list is bound to single out Arabs and Muslims unfairly. Ottawa and spy agencies reply that after 9/11, the threat to civil aviation from Muslim extremist groups like Al-Qa’ida remains real and that it would be irresponsible not to implement such a system to protect Canadians who fly. It will require Canadian airlines to cross reference their flight passenger logs against the no-fly list to make sure people who are deemed to pose a terrorist risk are not allowed to board.

The U.S. no-fly list has been a debacle – and an abuse of power. The number of people prohibited from boarding airplanes in the U.S. went from 16 before 9/11 to more than 120,000; people are on the no-fly list who died years ago; a horde of unfortunate souls with the same first and last names as those suspected of security threats are hassled for hours each time they try to board an aircraft (often missing their flight). Dead Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is still on the list, and 14 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, etc.

We should learn from the U.S. example and not impose the same glitches, injustices and hardships on Canadians.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.