The federal government has started the long process of creating a redress system for Canadians whose names falsely match people on the no-fly list. For the first time since committing more than $80-million to fix the problem, it is meeting with those affected.
Public Safety officials held a consultation session on Wednesday with more than a dozen advocates, including a vocal group of parents whose children’s names match those on the list. The meeting comes nearly seven months after the Liberal government announced funding of $81.4-million over five years to create a redress system that would resolve the delays and discrimination wrongly flagged Canadians experience at airports.
Khadija Cajee, whose nine-year-old son is affected by the no-fly list, helped found the advocacy group No-Fly List Kids that has pushed Ottawa for a redress system for nearly three years. Ms. Cajee took part in Wednesday’s meeting and said it was an encouraging opportunity to exchange ideas with the senior bureaucrats who will eventually develop the system.
“We basically wanted to get an idea of where the government is in terms of their outlook towards building the program, what the timeline is like, when we can expect to see a finished product and also what that product would look like," Ms. Cajee said.
Currently, Canadian airlines are required to screen their flight manifests against the Secure Air Travel Act list. Travellers who have been falsely flagged say they are unable to check in online, and face delays and increased scrutiny by airlines and security staff.
Unlike the U.S. system, Canada’s list does not include dates of birth, sex or other information to ensure that two people with the same name aren’t mistaken. A government-controlled redress system would allow Canadians whose names are similar to those on the list to apply for a unique identification number that they could use at the time of ticket purchase to clear their name before their flight.
Ms. Cajee said the government still needs to pass a law that would give it the authorization to electronically screen airline-passenger information. Bill C-59, the legislation that proposes transferring that power from the airlines to the government, is currently at first reading in the Senate.
In a statement on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office said the development of a redress system is a “substantial undertaking that will take time.” Spokesman Scott Bardsley said the government is starting consultations now so that it can accelerate the process if and when the Senate passes Bill C-59.
In the meantime, hundreds of law-abiding Canadians continue to be falsely identified by the no-fly list. Ms. Cajee’s son, Adam, made national headlines in early 2016 when he was flagged on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Boston for the NHL Winter Classic. And he continues to face travel delays. Ms. Cajee said airlines have even started asking her son to present his passport for domestic flights – something most Canadians are not required to do.