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CAUT/ACPPU Bulletin Online



CANADA'S VOICE FOR ACADEMICS

Vol 58 | No 4 | April 2011
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New Law Gives US Gov’t Final Say over Who Can Fly in Canada

Back Print
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Bill C-42 makes it legal for Canadian airlines to send passenger information for flights that traverse U.S. airspace.
Bill C-42 makes it legal for Canadian airlines to send passenger information for flights that traverse U.S. airspace.
Canadian air passengers now require approval of American authorities to board most planes leaving from Canadian airports. In March, Bill C-42 — a controversial air security bill — was signed into law. It allows Canadian airlines to comply with U.S. government demands for passenger records of everyone boarding any flights in Canada that will fly through U.S. airspace, even if the aircraft is not destined to land in the U.S.

Roch Tassé, spokesman for the International Civil Liberties Group, says this requirement includes the majority of international flights and approximately 75 per cent of domestic flights because the alternative airport in case of an emergency is in the United States.

“In other words, travelers in Canada will need to be authorized by the U.S. government before boarding a plane in our own country,” Tassé said.

He says under the legislation the U.S. can prohibit Canadians from boarding Canadian flights even when they have been deemed by Canadian commissions of inquiry and Canadian courts not to pose a risk to the security of Canada.

“We can now expect that many individuals will be barred from flying because of the Kafkaesque U.S. no-fly list, or because their name is the same as someone else on the list — a false positive, and this without any effective recourse or redress mechanism,” Tassé added.

The legislation raises serious questions about Canadian sovereignty as well as individual privacy as there is no restriction on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sharing Canadian passenger information with the plethora of police and security agencies in the U.S. or with counter-terrorism officials in other countries.

The bill was introduced by the Conservative government and was supported by the Liberals and Bloc Québécois. Only the NDP opposed the legislation.



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