WATCH: Global News has uncovered evidence “no” doesn’t always mean “no” when it comes to Canada’s no-fly list. Jacques Bourbeau explains.
OTTAWA – Canada’s no-fly list is not as categorical as you may think.
In fact, it could more properly be called the maybe-you-can-fly list.
Global News has learned that even if you are on the list, there is a possibility you will be allowed to get on a plane.
And that makes no sense to NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison.
“What is the no fly list? It’s either something which identifies people who are genuine threats and keeps them off flights, or it’s not,” he said.
“I don’t understand how we can have this secondary process….that’s overruling what’s supposed to be the key to aviation safety.”
So how does the system allow someone on the no-fly list to board a plane?
The decision to put someone on the list is made by a special advisory group made up of officials from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP and various government departments.
If you’re on the list, and you show up at an airport, the airline has to contact Transport Canada and a government official makes a last minute decision whether to keep you off the plane or not.
“If an individual on the specified persons list does not pose an immediate threat to aviation security, they may be permitted by Transport Canada to board a flight,” a Transport Canada spokeswoman said in an email.
“If this does occur, other precautions, when warranted, may be taken to ensure the safety and security of that flight and the other passengers on board.”
Sources tell Global News this has, in fact, happened.
But a former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya says for a no fly list to make any sense, there shouldn’t be a last-minute review.
“It’s the worst situation…and where usually mistakes are made,” he said.
“Based on that moment where you’re under pressure and in a very time-sensitve situation, you might rush into a situation where you (might) not have all the facts.”
We asked Transport Minister Lisa Raitt to explain how this policy makes sense.
She admits it doesn’t.
“The specifics of officials giving permission to people who are validly on a no-fly list that we have placed them on is something that I’ll ask my officials back in Ottawa. I have no knowledge of it,” said Raitt.
“I appreciate your bringing it to my attention, because it’s clearly not what we anticipate or expect in the government of Canada.”
Transport Canada says if someone on the no-fly list is allowed to board a flight, other precautions may be taken to ensure the safety of the flight.
But they won’t tell us what they are, nor tell us what criteria they use to override the no-fly list.
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