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Affected parents lobby Finance Minister to Finance independent no-fly-list system in Forthcoming budget

06 Nov 17
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Parents with children whose titles carefully match those on the nation’s no-fly list will be on Parliament Hill on Monday with signed letters from 176 MPs and a request from 25 prominent Canadians, urging Finance Minister Bill Morneau to fund a passenger-redress system in the upcoming budget.

The remedy effort, which uses the hashtag #NoFlyListKids, has endorsements of 17 cabinet ministers and 124 Liberal MPs, in addition to the backing of the Conservative, NDP and Green parties. Not one of the 17 ministers, except Immigration Minister Immigration Ahmed Hussen, were prepared to publish their letters to Mr. Morneau.

From the Immigration Minister’s letter, obtained by The Globe and Mail, Mr. Hussen complains that the “passenger security program ends in certain Canadian kids being subject to safety issues at airports since the affected person’s name is just like a person on Canada’s no-fly list.”

Liberal MPs and opposition parties are requesting Mr. Morneau to finance the creation of an independent no-fly-list computer system to allow for smooth traveling for law-abiding Canadian airline passengers and their kids.

A request will also be presented to the Trudeau government from 25 high-profile Canadians, including former Montreal hockey celebrity Bobby Rousseau, Alberta investment banker Brett Wilson, star of CBC’s Dragon Den, in addition to human-rights activist Bernie Farber and Maher Arar, who was arrested by the USA and deported to Syria where he was tortured and imprisoned.

One of the #NoFlyListKids parents is a former special-forces soldier and his wife. She’s still an active member in the Canadian Armed Forces and not able to publicly comment. However, her husband, Jeff Matthews, stated their six-year-old son, David, is about the no-fly list and they can not appear to get off him.

“We found out that he had been on the no-fly list when he was five. His title matched somebody on the no-fly list,” Mr. Matthews told The world. “We flew from Halifax in July and the exact same thing happened.”

Having a kid falsely flagged routinely leads to travel delays, inability to check in online and increased scrutiny by airlines and safety personnel.

Mr. Matthews said it’s frustrating that his son keeps getting flagged, given the young age and the fact he’s served his country in uniform and his wife continues to do so.

“For me, being a 31-year vet of the army and my wife being additionally, I’m certainly vetted,” he said. “For me, if you will trust anybody with safety of Canada, it would probably be a great bet on a 31-year vet.”

Representatives of the remedy effort is going to be meeting officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Department on Monday to press their case for Canada to create a computer redress system that’s equipped to differentiate between different individuals with the same or similar names.

Liberal MP Robert Oliphant, who as chair of Commons committee on public security and national security, wrote to the Finance Minister, saying he wants to get the money to assist families that regularly face travel delays after being flagged on the no-fly list.

“Canadians who are denied boarding at airports tend to be subject to a degrading and dehumanizing experience, which may place a array of limitations on them,” Mr. Oliphant said. “Affected families locate their ability to go to relatives, travel for leisure, or traveling for the financial advantage of Canada severely restricted and occasionally revoked.”

This past year, the Public Safety Ministry suggested $78-million annually to establish a U.S.-style standalone no-fly-list database computer program, but the measure was killed by Mr. Morneau’s department.

A properly funded treatment system would enable passengers whose names carefully match those on the no-fly list to apply for a special identification number. They may use the number in the time of a ticket purchase to clear their name beforehand and protect against flight delays.

Deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Riatt said the current system does not work because too many Canadians are wrongly flagged as potential terrorists and inspected at airports whenever they fly.

“Children aren’t the only ones affected by the absence of a redress system. Business executives are routinely postponed and forced to miss their flights,” Ms. Raitt said in her letter to Mr. Morneau.

Contrary to the United States’s standalone system, Canada’s present no-fly-list database is intended to piggyback onto airline computers, which makes it harder to take care of misunderstandings over identity.

“Any individual who now shares a name with someone on the Canadian no-fly list is subject to additional screening at the airport, psychological tension and fear of worldwide travel on the prospect of rejection upon re-entry,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said. NDP MP Gordon John said “the design defects in the no-fly program stretch back several years and now is the time for purposeful action.”

Khadija Cajee stated her eight-year-old son, Adam, was flagged because he took his first flight at age six months. A recent family trip home from Mexico was postponed when their passports were confiscated for an hour without excuse.

“My eight-year-old son was “Designated High Profile” since infancy,” Ms. Cajee recently testified before the Commons finance committee. “I don’t want him living the remainder of his life with a cloud of suspicion hanging over him.”

Mr. Morneau’s office has declined to comment on whether there would be funding from the 2018 budget for the no-fly list.

Dan Brien, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said Ottawa is dedicated to enhancing the reliability of the no-fly system, which is meant to keep individuals with terrorist ties from getting on airplanes, but added: “it takes time to create regulatory and database modifications to encourage a redress system{}”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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