It is obvious that the list will be shared with the US. Perhaps it is even made in the US. Refusing to acknowledge this info will be shared is just like Israel not saying it has nuclear arms!
Actually, there must be some sort of list already. There is a long history of people being refused entry to the US. Farley Mowat's case comes to mind and George Woodcock. A former Manitoba cabinet minister in the provincial govt. was denied entry to the US at one time.
Tuesday » January 16 » 2007
Feds mum on no-fly list
CanWest News Service
Monday, January 15, 2007
OTTAWA - The federal government refuses to say whether it plans to share names and information from Transport Canada's new no-fly list with U.S. authorities.
"These are high security questions," explained Catherine Loubier, an aide to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon. "Answering that question is a sort of security breach for us."
But security experts say there's little doubt Canada will share no-fly information with its allies, including the U.S., when the list is activated in March for all domestic flights. It will be extended to international flights to and from Canada in June.
Some fear sharing watch list information with the U.S. could lead to more cases like that of Maher Arar, who was deported to Syria by the Americans and incarcerated and tortured there.
Loubier's comments came after Transport Canada officials crafted the following carefully worded non-answer to Citizen questions about whether no-fly information would be shared with the Americans:
"Canadian legislation, including the Privacy Act, and policy will determine whether it is possible to share the list, or any information from the list, with foreign authorities."
One thing is beyond dispute: every airline that flies into and out of Canada will have access to the no-fly list.
By law, they will be required to check traveller names against the list before issuing boarding passes. If the name, gender and birth date of travellers match those of a "specified person" on the no-fly list, Transport Canada can deny boarding.
Canada is introducing its own no-fly list because "terrorist groups continue to target civil aviation," said Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. The program, he said, "will add another layer of security to our aviation system while maintaining efficiency and ensuring the privacy and human rights of Canadians are protected."
But Roch Tasse, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, said once information is shared with another nation, Canadian privacy protections don't apply.
"And as we've seen in the case of Maher Arar, even international law and international standards are not respected by our southern neighbour."
Loubier said Transport Canada was "well aware" of the danger of more Arar-type cases. "The Arar affair is something we surely don't want to see repeated," she said.
Cannon even delayed implementing the no-fly list, part of a program called Passenger Protect, until he was satisfied that the risk had been eliminated, she said. "We feel very comfortable that this is absolutely not a risk, or else we wouldn't be going ahead with this Passenger Protect program."
However even the most carefully designed no-fly list is bound to include errors, experts say. "Despite their best efforts, there's almost certainly gong to be names that end up there that probably shouldn't be," said Reg Whitaker, who chaired a panel that reviewed the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority last year.
That propensity for error increases the chance of more Arar-type cases, says Wesley Wark, a terrorism expert at the University of Toronto. "I think there's no way around that if you're going to have a watch list."
Wark has "no doubt" that Canada will share its no-fly list with authorities in the United States. "We have pledged ourselves to doing that through the traditional mechanisms of intelligence sharing, which persist despite the problems revealed in the Maher Arar case," he said.
He noted that Justice Dennis O'Connor, who headed the inquiry into Arar's case, concluded that intelligence sharing must continue. "It just has to be improved."
Moreover, Canada is committed to closer North American security integration as part of the 2005 Security and Prosperity Partnership between Canada, Mexico and the U.S., said Wark.
"One of the key elements of that is going to be information sharing on watch lists and trying to make watch lists congruent."
Terrorism expert John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, said Canadian police and intelligence agencies already work closely with dozens of other nations, particularly the British, Australians and Americans.
"And we share information left, right and centre all the time on a daily basis," he said. "But good luck getting someone to confirm that."
Thompson said information sharing is now integral to police and intelligence work, which is increasingly being done by multi-national task forces.
"A lot of Canadians still think in terms of CSIS and the RCMP," he said. "Those terms are almost irrelevant now. All the actual work is done by task forces with representation from all these different agencies."
Thompson said political considerations have a lot to do with the government's reticence when it comes to talking about sharing no-fly information with the U.S..
"There's a substantial portion of our population that is uncomfortable with the new security environment," he said. "If they refuse to answer the question, then somebody can't really get a fuss started about it."
Martin Rudner, director of Carleton University's Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies, said the no-fly list illustrates a classic Canadian dilemma.
"The public actually do want sovereign control over the watch list, and also we want to be able to enter the United States without passports and visas," he said. "Sorry, those two you can't have together."
With the start of the Robert Pickton murder trial set forJan. 22, the Vancouver Sun is filing a pre-trial package of copythat will lead up to the proceedings. For Monday, story aboutfamilies of other 20 women not on indictment. Neal Hall (VancouverSun). Length to be determined.
© CanWest News Service 2007
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