Canada has said that it is considering giving their flight information to the United States if one of their flights flies over US air space. Prime Minister Harper’s government is under fire for a new bill introduced into the House of Commons that would allow airlines to do just that. If passed into law, the USA would have final say on who could and could not board a plane in Canada.
“Canadian sovereignty has gone right out the window,” Liberal transport critic Joe Volpe told The Gazette in recent telephone interview. “You are going to be subject to American law.”
I tend to agree with Mr. Volpe. There is no reason why the Canadian government should permit such a thing.
Bill C-42 would comply with the U.S. Homeland Security’s Secure Flight program, which requires that airlines submit personal information about passengers 72 hours before a flight’s departure. Secure Flight has already been introduced for U.S. airlines, and Homeland Security wants to implement it internationally, including with Canadian airlines, by the end of this year.
If Bill C-42 passes, passengers leaving Montreal on a flight to Cuba or France, for example, while flying over the U.S., would have their name, birthdate and gender subject to screening by U.S. Homeland Security, which involves running that information through various government databases to determine whether there is a terrorist threat.
Volpe noted that Bill C-42 does not refer specifically to the United States, adding that “with a stroke of the pen” the government is agreeing to provide data on Canadian passengers to any foreign government.
This would set a dangerous precedent as Canadians could then, theoretically, be subject to laws of countries they never have any intention of flying to. It seems everyone is playing into the United States’ hands on security. They are allowing a foreign nation dictate who can and cannot fly on their planes.
The United States has agreed to erase after seven days passenger information “that is confirmed to not be linked with terrorism.”
Initially, the U.S. also wanted passenger information for domestic Canadian flights that crossed U.S. airspace.
Again, why are they keeping the information for seven days? If the passengers do not pose a threat, then there is no reason to keep the information longer than the flight time. Once the flight has landed, the USA doesn’t need the information. Given the fact that many databases are regularly backed up, you can be sure that your information will never truly be “erased.”
While it’s good that Canada said they couldn’t have access to passenger information for domestic Canadian flights, it takes a huge set of balls to even ask for it. This is the position America is taking and they are seeing just how far they can push the security theater envelope into getting the private data of a country.
If every country that the United States asks for this information would just send a resounding NO, then we wouldn’t even be in this position. The fact that anyone says yes or considers saying yes tells the United States that they have all the power and can run roughshod over other countries’ laws.
This is yet another case of enacting useless laws that don’t protect sovereignty or privacy. If it was so prudent for Canada to have such a law, why has the Harper government introduced it nine years after 9/11? If Canada and her flights over the USA were truly a danger to America, we would have known by now.
America is a vast and beautiful country. Her people are open and welcoming. It’s a shame that it’s run by ugly, cynical, untrustworthy people.