With the no-fly list coming online in the last twenty-four hours, I haven't heard of any instances of people being excluded from flying on the first day. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
I spoke with Chris Lambie of the Chronicle Herald yesterday morning and he spent part of the afternoon at the airport seeing how it went on. Here's his article:
Smooth lift-off for no-fly list - TheChronicleHerald.ca
Airline passengers seemed keen on heightened security
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter
The federal no-fly list caused no problems Monday at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
Passengers seemed keen on the idea of a list meant to screen out anyone who poses a potential threat to aviation security.
"As long as my name’s not on it, I’m happy," Mike Moir said as he waited for a flight back to Ontario.
"If the people are bad, I don’t want them on my plane."
The 67-year-old Hamilton, Ont., man was in Nova Scotia to work as an official for last weekend’s national canoe team trials on Lake Banook in Dartmouth.
The only dilemma he can see with the scheme to flag potentially dangerous flyers is if an innocent person has the same name as someone on the list.
"How many Smiths are there in the world?" Mr. Moir said. "If they just pick everybody with the same name, it could be a problem."
Still, he thinks the list is a necessity.
"With all the terrorism going on in this world nowadays, it’s a good measure."
Dawson Wentzell and his wife, Bethany, were waiting with their toy poodle, Bailey, to board a plane for Edmonton.
The list could prompt lawsuits against the federal government if people lose money because they couldn’t board flights due to name mix-ups, Ms. Wentzell said.
"If someone is delayed from work and this is the reason why, someone is going to get sued," she said.
They didn’t even think about the new security measure before checking in for their flight to Nova Scotia.
"We got up at 5 a.m. and believe me my mind wasn’t on lists," she said.
The couple from Daniel’s Harbour, N.L., wasn’t on the no-fly list and neither was their dog.
"God help us if he was," Ms. Wentzell said. "We’d really be in trouble then."
The no-fly list didn’t cause any problems at the facility, said airport spokesman Peter Spurway.
"If you didn’t know it was on, you wouldn’t know it was on," he said. "It has not made a single impact on our operations today or the operations of our partners in the airline business. I checked around a couple of times and it’s just been chugging along."
But David Fraser, a privacy lawyer in Halifax, won’t be surprised to hear from clients who suddenly discover their names are on the no-fly list.
"We’re likely to hear people are going to have some difficulty in Canada simply because of the way that these sorts of lists have to be structured in order to catch or include in them people with non-English or French names that have to be transliterated or made into English equivalents, and some of them can be common names," Mr. Fraser said. "So there’s probably a fair amount of wiggle room in the way that they match against peoples’ names."
The Specified Persons List, announced last fall, includes the name, birth date and gender of anyone who might pose an immediate threat to aviation security. Airlines that fly into and out of Canada must check the names of their passengers against the list.
"There’s really the opportunity that a whole bunch of people who aren’t actually on the list, just people who have similar names and similar birthdates and other identifying characteristics (as those) on the list," Mr. Fraser said.
"I think that there’s a good chance that people will be not allowed to fly based on that sort of confusion."
Travellers only find out their name is on the list when they try to check in and get a boarding card.
"Vacation plans can be ruined," Mr. Fraser said. "There’s no real accountability at that end for the real sort of negative impact that inclusion on this list might have."
Ottawa has refused to release the number of people on the list.
"There’s always a very delicate balance when you’re dealing with national security issues, Mr. Fraser said. "It’s a delicate balance between openness and necessary secrecy. I think the whole process needs to be done in sunlight.
"Everything related to the process of the inclusion criteria and how it’s actually applied and recourse that individuals might have to get off the list really needs to be completely open and transparent and subject to significant scrutiny.
"We are talking about a potential infringement on an individual’s constitutional right to travel within Canada and also the right to leave Canada. It’s right there in the charter that you have those rights. And many of those rights, in a country as large as Canada, can only be exercised by air travel."
Imam Jamal Badawi, professor emeritus of religious studies at Saint Mary’s University, said Muslims, including himself, often have problems flying in the United States, where a similar list is already in place.
"I’ve heard of many horror stories where a child, for example, five years old, they say, ‘No, his name matches the potential terrorist to look for,’ and still they have to go through the clearance (process)," Mr. Badawi said.
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on Ottawa to scrap the no-fly list until it fixes fundamental flaws in the program.
"Some people suspect that the lists made here in Canada may not totally be homegrown," Mr. Badawi said. "It’s quite possible also that, because of the co-operation between the intelligence agencies in both countries, that some of the names on the watch list in the U.S. might end up here on our lists in Canada."
That could make some Canadian Muslims reluctant to fly, he said.
"It’s part of the very unfortunate trend in the post 9-11 era that, in the name of security, there is a great deal of encroachment on privacy, a great deal of encroachment on civil liberties," Mr. Badawi said.
He doubts the list will make flying safer.
"Anybody intent on wrongdoing, they probably will find some other way of carrying out their plans," Mr. Badawi said. "But even if there is some slight improvement in security, what is the price? The worst scenario, really, is that democratic countries would move toward totalitarian regimes in the name of security."