Prepared and presented by:
Khadija Cajee & Sulemaan Ahmed on behalf of No Fly List Kids (www.noflylistkids.ca)
Presented to: The Standing Committee on Finance (Pre-Budget Consultations 2018 – Toronto, Ontario) Date: Friday, October 21, 2017
The No Fly List Kids is a group of Canadians whose names are flagged on Canada’s No-Fly List, known as the Passenger Protect Program.
The attention this antiquated system has received is international to the point where it was even mentioned by Conan O’Brien on The Late Show back in February 2016.
This list includes people of all ages and from a variety of diverse backgrounds. In fact, Senator David Smith and Former Defense Minister Bill Graham were both falsely flagged on the No-Fly List.
My own son, Adam, who is now 8, has been flagged on this list since he was a newborn. We first flew with him when he was 6 weeks old. He must be visually identified each time we travel by air. We have been delayed in Mexico once coming back into Canada on a Canadian airline when our passports were confiscated for an hour with no explanation.
Having a child falsely flagged routinely results in travel delays, inability to check in online, increased scrutiny by airline and security personnel and stigmatization and marginalization – queuing up the next constitutional crisis.
False-positives of the No-Fly List raise serious privacy rights implications as well as potentially affect the Charter protected mobility rights of Canadians under Section 6. Some of our children have been denied initial boarding and delayed to the point that they have missed flights in internationally. Older No Fly List Kids avoid travel due to the potential for stigmatization. All families find the security screenings become increasingly invasive as their children have gotten older.
Additionally, though this list contains names of people from all backgrounds as mentioned above, it does skew toward Muslim-sounding or Arabic-sounding names thus questioning the violation of their rights under Section 15 of the Charter which protects and promotes equality under the law.
False-positives also hurts business travel. Mr. Stephen Evans who was the Chief Technology Officer at Kijiji and has held senior positions at MSN, Canoe and The Toronto Star wrote a piece in the Globe and Mail about his experiences being on the No-Fly List. He is one of several executives who have shared their stories with us.
With bad data like this being shared with foreign nations, and due to the nature of bilateral information sharing programs, Canadians also risk being falsely flagged in
foreign jurisdictions and by agencies that may not uphold similar values to human rights and life as we do here in Canada. Innocent people risk being associated with acts they did not commit, resulting in possible detention, false imprisonment and torture, as has happened in the past with Mr. Maher Arar. His case was a classic example of bad data being shared with and abused by a foreign country. Mr. Arar will have the stigma and trauma of this experience with him for the rest of his life and this gross oversight cost the Canadian taxpayers $10m. We cannot risk having this happen again to one of our children as they grow up.
Since 2008 Canadian domestic carriers are not required to screen passengers against the US No-Fly List on domestic flights (even if they enter US airspace) yet Air Canada in particular is known to continually ignore this directive. Authority needs to be removed from the hands of the airlines to make decisions and screen at their discretion. My 8 year old son has been “Designated High Profile” since infancy. I do not want him living the rest of his life with the cloud of suspicion lingering over him. He is a child now. I am with him to advocate for and protect him. But this won’t always be the case as he gets older.
In 2009, the United States shifted this responsibility from airline operators to the TSA and has since seen a significant decrease in the number of redress requests which is important because “approximately 98% of the applications to Department of Homeland Security Traveller Redress Inquiry Program are determined to be false positives.”
Most of the children and adults we are speaking on behalf of today have applied to DHS TRIP and have been cleared by the United States, yet continue to face issues while flying domestically or on domestic airlines.
The PPP is airline designed and contains names only. It does not contain any other identifiable data to distinguish between two people with the same name.
In Canada, currently if a person finds themselves falsely flagged on this list, there is no mechanism available to them to get themselves removed or separately identified. These systems exist to law enforcement agencies country wide – police forces, the CBSA as well as CSIS. Similar systems even exist in School Boards.
In November 2016 in the Globe and Mail, Mr. Robert Fife reported that “The federal government has approved a redress system” in the amount of “$78-million annually until 2022 and $12-million every year thereafter to manage the data-system changes, an overhaul that may take up to 18 months to implement.”
However, in conversations with senior leadership at major tech companies, we have been told that the daily consulting rate for Accenture is $1800 a day. At 200 working days per year, would mean the $78m cost would take 194 man years to build a redress system. The cost estimates are curiously high and there has been no transparent process used through an independent RFP to get independent estimates on the cost. Even conservative estimates find this number very hard to understand.
Consequently, in the 2018 Federal budget we must have full funding for the build and implementation of a redress system for the Passenger Protect Program. A program like this will result in fewer false flags, and the improvement in the efficiency and security of our human rights system as well as our air travel and entire national security regime.
No Fly List Kids Website: www.noflylistkids.ca
No Fly List Kids Twitter: https://twitter.com/NoFlyListKids
John Ibbitson, The Globe & Mail (Bill Graham – Defense Minister or No Fly Suspect?)
Colin Freeze, The Globe & Mail (David Smith – Why is Liberal senator’s name on no-fly list? https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/why-is-liberal-senators-name-on-no-fly- list/article4104653/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&
Robert Fife, The Globe & Mail (Ottawa approves redress system for Canadian travellers affected by no-fly list) https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-approves-redress-system-for- canadian-travellers-affected-by-no-fly-lists/article32947442/?ref=http:// www.theglobeandmail.com&
Stephen Evans, ROB, The Globe & Mail (Canada’s no-fly list is in desperate need of some innovation) https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/canadas-no-fly- list-is-in-desperate-need-of-some-innovation/article36284984/?ref=http:// www.theglobeandmail.com&