Proceedings of the Special Senate Committee on the
Anti-terrorism Act

Issue 19 - Evidence - Afternoon meeting


OTTAWA, Monday, November 14, 2005

The Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act met this day at 1:50 p.m. to undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of the Anti-terrorism Act, (S.C. 2001, c.41).

Senator Joyce Fairbairn (Chairman) in the chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, I will call this meeting to order. This is the forty-second meeting with witnesses of the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act. For our viewers, I will explain the purpose of the committee.

In October 2001, as a direct response to the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, and at the request of the United Nations, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-36, the Anti- terrorism Act. Given the urgency of the situation then, Parliament was asked to expedite our study of the legislation. We agreed, and the deadline for the passage of that bill was mid-December of 2001.

However, concerns were expressed that it was difficult to thoroughly assess the potential impact of the legislation in such a short time. For that reason, it was agreed that three years later, Parliament would be asked to examine the provisions of the act and its impact on Canadians with the benefit of hindsight and in a slightly less emotionally charged situation with the public. The work completed by this special committee represents the Senate's efforts to fulfil that obligation.

When we have completed the study, we will make a report to the Senate, outline any issue we believe should be addressed and allow the results of our work to be available to the government and the Canadian people.

I should say that the House of Commons is at this time going through a similar process.

The committee has met with government ministers and officials, international and domestic experts on the threat environment, legal experts, those involved in enforcement and intelligence gathering, and representatives of community groups. Most of our foreign discussions have been done by video conferencing, but we did pay a visit to Washington in September and have just returned from meetings in London, England, last week.

This afternoon we have the pleasure of welcoming representatives from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, otherwise known as CATSA. We have with us Mr. Jacques Duchesneau, the Chief Executive Officer; Mr. Marc Duncan, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer; and Mr. Michael McLaughlin, Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer. Welcome.

[Translation]

Jacques Duchesneau, President and CEO, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority: Thank you, Madam Chairman. I am both delighted and honoured to appear before the committee today.

[English]

The review process in which you are engaged is one of extreme importance. Recent history has shown us that the threat of terrorism is too real. However, in a democratic society such as ours, we need to strike a fine balance between security and individual civil liberties. Your work is all about where best to draw that line.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, is a key link in a chain of agencies that work to protect Canadians from acts of terrorism. CATSA delivers security via highly trained people who balance thorough screening with customer service and respect.

I will give you a quick primer on who we are and what we do.

CATSA is a Crown corporation that reports to Parliament through the Minister of Transport. Transport Canada is our regulator. CATSA executes the mandate given to it.

We were created in April 2002 to ensure that air travel and airports in Canada are secure against criminal or terrorist attacks. We surfaced a little more than three years after CATSA's creation, and I can confidently tell that you we are accomplishing what we were set up to do.

Every year at 89 airports across this vast land, over 4,300 highly trained officers screen more than 37 million passengers and nearly 60 million pieces of luggage. We fund police presence at airports, and we also contract the RCMP to police selected flights.

[Translation]

Screening officers are CATSA's first line of defense at airports. They undergo extensive training, retraining and recertification. They represent over 100 linguistic backgrounds and a diversity of religious and socio-economic groups.

[English]

Our front-line officers are extremely sensitive to the diversity of the customers they serve, the people they are there to protect, whether they have special needs or different linguistic, cultural or religious backgrounds.

To compliment our team of front-line officers, we deploy state-of-the-art equipment. By the end of this year, we will have deployed 2,500 pieces of the most current screening technology for checked baggage.

The most visible part of our current mandate is to screen passengers and their belongings. However, CATSA cannot arrest or detain anyone. We have no powers of investigation. The most we can do is not allow someone to pass through one of our screening stations. We work in cooperation with the local police, who are onsite at airports, if any further action is required.

[Translation]

We do not collect any information whatsoever on the passengers we screen. Screening officers do not screen for forged passports or other fraudulent travel documents. That responsibility is beyond CATSA's mandate.

[English]

We do, however, work closely with Transport Canada and our partners in air security to maintain a constant line of communication. Access to timely and actionable intelligence is critical for us. We rely on information to help us respond to threats and guide the innovation of our security system.

Advancements in terrorist arsenals can make our defences and detection techniques obsolete. Timely information gives us the capacity to assess threats and to take preventive measures.

I should point out that the 9/11 commission highlighted the fact that information not shared in a timely fashion is information wasted. Part of our success as a security agency depends upon the timely information we obtain from Transport Canada and other security agencies.

At the same time, CATSA is also a leader in bringing together international security agencies. We work closely with partners from around the world such as Japan, Israel and Australia, just to name a few. We share best practices and information on emerging threats. This helps CATSA develop into an agile and efficient security expert.

Earlier, I talked about screening travellers and their baggage. That is the most visible part of our mandate. We also randomly screen some 2,300 airport workers every day who have access to restricted areas.

We are currently adding an enhanced layer to airport security. By the end of this year, we will have real-time, biometric identification systems in place in Canada's 29 largest airports. Our system of fingerprint and iris recognition technology will eventually cover 120,000 airport workers.

[Translation]

CATSA was initially set up to re-establish the confidence of Canadians in the air travel system. Today, I can tell you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we have succeeded brilliantly in meeting this objective. Canadians are now taking to the skies in greater numbers than ever before. Traffic figures today exceed pre-9/11 levels. To my mind, that is the strongest indicator of the trust that Canadians have in their air transport system.

[English]

Travellers themselves are telling us that they believe CATSA is doing a fine job. More than 90 per cent of those surveyed last March said they were satisfied with the professionalism and the process they experienced at our screening points across the country.

We do this with at an admirable level of cost-effectiveness. Over 90 cents of every dollar we receive is spent on front- line operations.

However, this does not mean our task is finished. Events around the world, and especially the more recent attacks on civilian transportation systems in Madrid and London, confirm that our vigilance must never wane. We all know that terrorists are finding more insidious ways of creating mass devastation. Fortunately, Canada has not been directly affected by terrorist acts since the Air India attack of 1985.

However, we know that the threat is real, and our task is just beginning.

Terrorists are creative and imaginative. This presents a constantly shifting landscape to security agencies such as ours.

We are a young organization. We are striving to mature into an agile and effective security expert. To do this, CATSA must be strategic. We must be able to anticipate. We need to respond more swiftly and effectively to mitigate threats.

[Translation]

We also need to be operationally flexible. We need to be able to shift funds and resources to the areas that present the most concern. We work every day to continuously improve and fulfil our mission to support the national security policy and become a world-class leader in air security.

[English]

As a security agency, CATSA's first and foremost duty is security. With that responsibility comes the commitment to respect the rights of each individual who comes through our screening points.

We will continue to work closely with our regulator, Transport Canada, as well as other agencies and partners, including airlines, airports, police agencies and, of course, passengers themselves.

Together we will ensure our standard operating procedures remain effective, flexible and efficient, and at the same time, respectful of the people we serve.

CATSA is the last line of defence before passengers and their belongings board an aircraft, but we never lose sight of the fact that we are also a customer service organization. That focus on customer treatment helps us strike the correct and essential balance between security and treating individuals properly.

[Translation]

Madam Chairman, thank you for allowing me this time to speak with you. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you may have.

[English]

The Chairman: Thank you very much. We will start with Senator Smith.

Senator Smith: I do not want to get into a lot of details on this, but as you know, the Senate Defence Committee and the Chair, Senator Kenny, have had quite a bit to say about airport security, and have done quite a study on it. It is only fair to give you an opportunity to respond, if you think that some criticisms may not have been fair. We should all have open minds. One other aspect of it is that some of the things that that committee has talked about cost a lot of money. You also have to be cost effective. Rather than get into it point by point, I just thought it would be reasonable for you to have an opportunity to reply to some of the criticisms that have come from that committee.

Mr. Duchesneau: Madam Chairman, you will never hear from me any criticism of the work that the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence is doing. On the contrary, we need to have these discussions to improve the system that we have put in place.

However, as you know, terrorists are not static. They evolve, and CATSA must evolve also. We need to make sure that we are always one step ahead of terrorist groups and people who have intentions of attacking the system.

Is the system 100 per cent foolproof? Absolutely not, and I will never say such a thing before your committee. However, I can assure you that we are striving to do a better job on a daily basis. We have given our screeners second- to-none training. They have received about 10 times the training that they received previously, and recently, my colleagues and travelled the country to meet with 1,400 screeners; they are begging to receive more training.

It is more than obvious that the screening we were doing three years ago, the screening we are doing today and the screening we will be doing one month from now, depending on the threat, will be different, but I can assure honourable senators that we have an organization with front-line screeners who are committed to doing their job the best way they can.

Senator Smith: I am not suggesting criticism of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. I know that some of the things they have advocated would be nice, but there are funding issues involved and everyone has to make priority decisions.

Let me come at another question. There was an article recently about someone who got into many places at Pearson Airport that he was not supposed to be. I think this person was from a security company in the United States and was accompanied by a reporter from a particular media outlet.

Was that more of an issue for the GTAA and Pearson officials, these door locks? How many of the problems that emerged from this particular excursion are related to matters under your responsibility as opposed to the local airport authority? It is always a delicate question figuring out who is responsible for what, but you know what I am talking about.

Mr. Duchesneau: Yes, you can rest assured, senators, that we were watching the show on Wednesday at nine o'clock.

It would be unfair for me to say CATSA did just fine but the other partners, namely, the airports, airlines and police, did not do a good job.

I brought a slide for the committee. This shows an airport, with the different colours indicating all the partners involved in security. It is a very complex system. What we saw during The Fifth Estate report is we take care of screening people and their belongings. We saw a person going through our screening line, then after that — I think Ms. Gartner explained that — he passed through the screening point and was able to go to different places in the airport itself.

We did our job, and he was allowed to go into a restricted area. We will never have a 100 per cent foolproof system — I repeat that — but we need to work together. It is more than obvious that he went into places where he should not, and we know that and we admit that. We just need to make sure that working together will prevent things like that.

Certain other aspects that were shown during the presentation were related more to safety than security. For example, with respect to having access to a jet way, there are not many places where you can hide anything before getting to a plane in the empty jet way.

I have to caution people, perhaps. It was sensational, but we would have liked to have had an opportunity to give feedback before the story was put together. As I say, we watched that show over and over again, and we ran checks of our own. Regarding the bag that was used to protect films, we tried the same test, and in the test that we ran you can see through the bags. If this is correct, unless they have a special bag — we did not have a chance to discuss the entire thing — that means that our screeners were able to go to the screen and see through the bag. Then that would not represent a threat to security.

My point is that it is one thing to be sensational, but can we sit down together, and we are open to that.

Senator, the Defence Committee came up with many good ideas. I stay in touch with Senator Kenny on a regular basis to exchange ideas in order to improve the system. That is a primary focus of CATSA. We have to evolve just as terrorists evolve.

Senator Smith: I have one last question on the screening of employees and access to freight and baggage. That issue received a great deal of emphasis during meetings of the Defence Committee. Is any of that under your jurisdiction or is that the responsibility of local airport authorities?

Mr. Duchesneau: It is one of our mandates. We screen about 2,300 employees each day across the country. We will be issuing biometric passes to all 120,000 airport employees across Canada. These cards will contain iris or fingerprint data for identification purposes. We randomly screen employees across Canada.

It is difficult to find and maintain a proper balance. If we were to go to 100 per cent screening, we would bring the aviation industry to a halt; and we do not want that so we need to ensure that we find a proper balance. Of the nearly 40 million passengers we screen each year, how many of them are terrorists? I would say that 99.99 per cent of them are law-abiding citizens. Should we put pressure on these people and treat everyone equally, or should we put more emphasis on the bad guys? That is why your committee is so important. To ensure that we do our job in the best possible way, we need to obtain the required intelligence and deploy the appropriate human or materiel resources in the right place at the right time.

Senator Andreychuk: Mr. Duchesneau, your last comment is the most important one. You said that you need proper intelligence to do your job. Were your instructions to never guarantee that scanning would be 100 per cent foolproof? What instructions were you given? Many people think that if all people were to submit to screening, then everyone would be safe.

Mr. Duchesneau: We are safe. A person watching the show last week would not have drawn that conclusion, which is unfortunate. We need to look at what is happening on a regular basis around the world. That is why I meet regularly with my counterparts around the world. Canada is seen as one of the leaders. We just went through an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The minister asked that our department be audited, and we passed with flying colours.

Currently, we have a multi-layered system at airports such that if one layer fails, the second one should pick it up. We have about 10 different layers, some of which are the responsibility of CATSA, while others fall under other agencies — police, airport authorities and airlines. There are reasons for the questions asked when baggage is checked at the counter. That is one layer. On the morning of 9/11, employees working at the airline ticket counter knew that there was something wrong with the person who checked the baggage but there was no reporting facility in place. They had a gut feeling that something was not right.

Today, I can assure you that we work closely with the airport authorities and the airlines. In fact, our regional manager sits on the airport operational committee, AOC. We exchange information on a daily basis, not only on individuals but also on trends, threats and loopholes that might be in the system. We evolve on a daily basis. That is one of the strengths of CATSA.

Senator Andreychuk: I understand that you are multi-layered, but that causes some concern. How are those many layers coordinated efficiently and effectively? That is how loopholes are created. You cannot stop a terrorist unless you know who he is, if I understand you. You cannot begin by targeting everyone in the hope that you are able to identify a terrorist. You should know who the suspect might be and prevent him or her from boarding an aircraft.

What were your specific instructions from government? Were you told to be simply one of the layers and to do your job well? What philosophy of protection are you living by? I ask this because for years in the area of criminal law people have said that you can slow down a criminal but you cannot prevent him from acting. Thus, you try to erect as many barriers as possible so that someone has an opportunity to intervene. We did not have terrorists, but we did have criminals who chose to exhibit a certain kind of behaviour. We are talking now about terrorists, who, if intelligence has done its job, should be targeted long before they ever get to an airport.

What is your philosophy for what you are doing? What instructions did you receive?

Mr. Duchesneau: I was a police officer for 30 years. It was easy to identify the bad guys because they got together on a regular basis. You knew if they were planning or plotting something. However, terrorism has evolved. Not long ago, before 9/11 and al Qaeda, we knew who the terrorists were. Today, al Qaeda is no longer a movement but is an idea. Anyone anywhere in the world could pretend that what he sees on television infringes on his rights. He might decide to launch a solo attack, having obtained all the information he needs through the Internet.

We do not face the same kind of people that we faced just three years ago. We need a deterrence effect. Since 9/11, and disregarding the two attacks on Russian planes in August 2004 that were linked to a corruption problem at the airport, there have been no attacks on airplanes. Why is that? We have created what we call ``hard targets.'' Airports are hard targets compared to soft targets such as a shopping centre. Look at the attacks that have occurred since 9/11. They have moved away from the airports, the Senate or the House because those areas have good security measures in place.

We need to think like terrorists. Why would a terrorist go to a place where he might stand the greatest chance of being detected when he could go just about anywhere else to launch an attack? The instructions that I received, senator, are that I cannot fail. I believe that you heard the Minister of Transport say that clearly. It is as simple as that. We have put many systems in place and soon we will add more layers of protection, because we need to evolve just as the threat we face has evolved.

Senator Andreychuk: You said that you cannot fail, and that might be part of the problem. If I were listening to you say that on this broadcast I would think that you are guaranteeing that no one will penetrate the system. Is that what we want the public to think? If someone does get through, then heads will have to roll. Is that not the wrong way to approach it? Is it not better to talk openly about a reasonable risk to society? What is the acceptable risk that the public should know about?

Mr. Duchesneau: There is no acceptable risk.

I was the chief of police in Montreal. Every year we accepted 40 to 50 murders. In the aviation industry, my objective is zero. I might be a dreamer, but I can assure you that we are striving to ensure that we attain the level of zero risk.

That is why, knowing that we do not know who the terrorists are, we need preventive measures — deterrence installations or deterrence tools — to ensure that a terrorist who would like to launch an attack will not come near an airport.

We have addressed that question many times with counterparts around the world. There is no silver bullet in the job that we are doing; but by putting in these layers, I think we are ensuring that we improve the system.

Senator Andreychuk: I am not clear on your mandate. Is every airport covered, however small?

Mr. Duchesneau: No.

Senator Andreychuk: We are really talking about major facilities?

Mr. Duchesneau: Eighty-nine airports.

Senator Andreychuk: However, that is not all airports, and it does not preclude people flying into your 89 from these others.

Mr. Duchesneau: We cover 99.2 per cent of the traffic in Canada. For people flying in from a smaller airport to a bigger airport, we have screening operations in all 89. They are different; obviously, major airports have more automatic equipment because of the numbers. In smaller airports, we have some equipment, but screeners have more time to screen people because there are not as many passengers.

Senator Andreychuk: And cargo?

Mr. Duchesneau: We are not there yet. Transport Canada is working on a plan to look at screening cargo. I am not saying that this task will come to CATSA, but it is a Transport Canada responsibility. They are working hard to find a solution quickly. It is a major endeavour.

[Translation]

Senator Joyal: Welcome, Mr. Duchesneau. The first question that comes to my mind relates to your previous life. As you said earlier, you were a municipal police officer.

At the time when Canada's airports were privatized, some 7 years ago, airport security was a matter of RCMP jurisdiction. You spoke earlier of deterrence. There is no doubt that in the days when people saw RCMP officers upon arrival at a Canadian airport, when they got off a plane, or went through the gate, it created a certain impression — and I do mean impression.

When our airports were privatized, 7 or 8 years ago, profit became king. The airport authorities, established in the wake of privatization, awarded contracts to private agencies, which, as we have discovered, often employ retirees. I have nothing against retirees, or people over 60 years of age, as I myself fall into this category; but, the airport authorities try to give these particular retirees uniforms similar to those of RCMP officers. Even though people know too well that the officers in uniform are no longer RCMP officers.

In your view, has airport security been compromised by the fact that it no longer falls under RCMP purview? Should this not be the first reform that is introduced?

Mr. Duchesneau: That is an excellent question. The RCMP is one of Canada's best-loved symbols, and when we consider its history, it is clear that the presence of an RCMP officer immediately provides Canadians with a sense of security. There is no doubt about that. However, I am sure that you are aware that one of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authorities' six mandates is to fund police services in Canadian airports. The RCMP is still present in some Canadian airports, but the majority of our major airports are served by local police forces. Montreal, Toronto, Peel Regional, Halifax and others. Indeed, the regulations stipulate that, in the major airports, these officers must be able to provide an armed response in less than five minutes.

Therefore, yes, security companies are often responsible for the airport perimeter, and for providing a uniformed presence in the airport; however, there is also a police presence in Canada's principal airports, funded in part by budgets that we manage, although it is true that airports also contribute to the costs related to police services.

If you are asking me whether the presence of a recognized national police force serves as a deterrent, I once again find myself unable to deny that you raise a valid point. I can, however, assure you that, under the original terms of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, all police programs under our purview will be reviewed in the five- year report. It will provide an in-depth analysis of these issues.

Senator Joyal: Will this review include a re-evaluation of training practices?

Mr. Duchesneau: Yes. It will provide an in-depth review. The minister was very clear about all aspects of our various mandates being reviewed, as is provided by the act. The minister will shortly announce the three-commissioner committee, which will submit its report by the end of 2006, or the beginning of 2007. The special review committee will examine our police programs, as they will our practices for searching both luggage and individuals.

Senator Joyal: I was struck by a paragraph on page 42 of the annual report that you provided to us. It is at the bottom of the page, in red type. I assume that you wanted to draw attention to it.

CATSA continues to deploy equipment to airports on a voluntary basis. Several airports have expressed a willingness to volunteer for a RAIC trial. CATSA is prepared to work with these and other airports that are operationally ready to incorporate RAIC into their systems.

It is on the same page in the English version. What strikes me, is the use of the word ``volunteer.'' I had always thought that airport security was consistent across Canada. I thought that the reason that you were set up as a national body was to ensure, as you yourself said, that whether I board an airplane in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Victoria, Vancouver or Yellowknife, I will be subject to the same security measures. I do not understand why your report refers to voluntary participation. In other words, based on what criteria could an airport authority decide to afford me, more, or less, security?

Could you please explain why the system described in the section entitled ``Non-passenger screening'' is inconsistent?

Mr. Duchesneau: Our role is a little like that of an orchestra conductor. We speak of deploying equipment ``on a voluntary basis,'' because we have until the December 31, 2005 to be in line with international regulations. I can assure you that, at the moment — and we still have around 40 days until the day — all 89 airports that I mentioned have the required equipment, with the exception of two, whose progress has been slowed due to construction work. However, by December 31, 2005, all passengers and their baggage will be screened by CATSA officers.

Our progress on Restricted Area Identification Cards has been slower, as it required amending the regulations to make the cards mandatory for all employees. We are currently accelerating the roll-out, and by mid-2006, all of the 120,000 employees ought to have obtained, voluntarily, one of these photo ID cards allowing access to restricted areas.

Senator Joyal: Are they biometric cards, or just standard passes that anybody can use?

Mr. Duchesneau: They are biometric. The practice of using biometrics is already established in our offices. We already use fingerprinting and, in some cases, we use iris scanning, especially for employees working in ``dirtier'' areas, as it is more difficult to read somebody's fingerprints when their hands are dirty. The voluntary aspect of the process only relates to the initial roll- out phase which ends on December 31, 2005, at which time voluntary compliance will also come to an end.

Senator Joyal: In your presentation, you said, and I will quote you to avoid misrepresenting what you intended to say: ``Screening passengers and baggages.'' In your incorporating act, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, when defining your mandate in clause 6, it is stated that —

[English]

I think your legal adviser, Mr. Duncan, probably has a copy of it. I would like to read it because it is important for discussion. Section 6(1) states:

The mandate of the Authority is to take actions, either directly or through a screening contractor, for the effective and efficient screening of persons who access aircraft or restricted areas through screening points, the property in their possession or control and the belongings or baggage they give to an air carrier for transport.

[Translation]

The way in which I interpret your mandate, is that you essentially have two areas of responsibility: baggage, and staff who have aircraft access.

Mr. Duchesneau: I think that it would be helpful for me to summarize the six mandates with which we have been entrusted. Our first mandate relates to screening passengers, their hand luggage, and checked baggage. When you go to an airport, your baggage gets placed on a carousel; these are our two primary mandates.

In November 2002, the minister mandated us to implement a national security pass system, known as the Restricted Area Identification Card System, which I mentioned earlier. Under the terms of this mandate, we have the right to randomly screen employees who hold one of these cards. In addition, we are responsible for two police services programs: airport police services, and on-board police officers. As I am sure that it is a matter of concern for your committee, I think that it would be worthwhile clarifying that we are looking for specific objects when we screen passengers. We are not looking for people.

Senator Joyal: That is exactly what I wanted to address with you. It is on this aspect of your mandate that we really need to be clear; could you provide us with a more precise explanation?

Mr. Duchesneau: Our screening officers do not have the power of detention or the power of arrest, even though, in criminal law — and I know that there are several lawyers in the room — the authority to search is tied to the power of arrest. In our case, an exception in the act provides for us to search people who wish to board an aircraft. In Canada, by law, any persons who board an aircraft must assent to a search of both their person and their baggage. And I would reiterate that we are screening for specific items. We know that criminals can travel by air; but, they cannot travel with items that they could use in an attack. That is why we have a regulated list of prohibited items that cannot be brought on board an aircraft.

Senator Joyal: You are saying, therefore, that if a person were carrying a prohibited item, in and of itself, the item would be seized. You would seize and destroy it.

Mr. Duchesneau: Yes. If the item were also prohibited under the Criminal Code, a firearm, for example, the police would intervene. If it were a knife, an item which is not prohibited by law, unless the bearer intends to commit a crime, we would ask the person either to turn it over to our officers, or place it in his checked baggage, as it cannot be carried in hand luggage on board the aircraft.

Senator Joyal: But nobody is forcing that person to board the plane. It is not an offence to carry a prohibited item unless it is a regulated weapon that would require a permit.

Mr. Duchesneau: That is correct. To give you an idea, we intercept about 750,000 prohibited items every year.

Senator Joyal: What do you do with them?

Mr. Duchesneau: They are destroyed, some are used as evidence if a person is charged under the Criminal Code. Some airports even have programs allowing items that are seized to be mailed to the owners' home.

Senator Joyal: Do you provide the envelope?

Mr. Duchesneau: They have access to an envelope.

Senator Joyal: I would like you to tell us about another aspect. You said that the passenger's identity is monitored. To what extent are you authorized to monitor a passenger's identity?

Mr. Duchesneau: We do not do any monitoring ourselves, that is done by the airline. When you check in, you are given a boarding card and you are asked to provide your passport as identification. That is the airline's responsibility. Then you proceed to security control, where they check to see whether or not you are entitled to access the area. For that you need either a boarding card or an employee ID card. There is one final check before you board the plane. The airline employee asks you to show your boarding card and photo idea or a passport.

Senator Joyal: So, when a passenger goes through security, or what we call the ``scanner,'' your employees are not required to ask for that person's ID; the passenger could, theoretically, arrive with only a boarding card, and your people would not ask the person to identify himself. It is not up to you to determine whether or not the person whose name is on the boarding pass is the same one who is about to board a plane.

Mr. Duchesneau: Not at all. Which only serves to reinforce what I have already said, that is, that our job is to search for objects, and not for individuals. That is done by the airline, by the police services before boarding, and then again by the airline.

Senator Joyal: So it is up to the airline to ensure that the person who boards the aircraft is the one to whom the boarding pass was given after showing his ID at registration.

Mr. Duchesneau: That is correct.

Senator Joyal: So you are never required to ask a passenger to identify himself when going through security?

Mr. Duchesneau: No. If a person has a boarding card or an employee ID card, as I said earlier — ``a document of entitlement'' is the term that I was looking for earlier — then the person will simply be searched for prohibited items.

Senator Joyal: How do you monitor what the employees bring in, since it could be dangerous and could be placed on an aircraft? In other words, you use the employee ID cards to control their identity, but how can you be sure that an employee cannot move through the workplace with dangerous goods, and is any monitoring done at that level?

Mr. Duchesneau: We do a search, if the employee is carrying a tool box or a briefcase, in order to find any items that could endanger the safety of an aircraft. Of course, if he has a tool box with box cutters, for example, like the type that were used for the September 11 attacks, then it would depend on the type of work that he does in the airport. There again, it is a question of judgment. We are interested in explosives, firearms, or anything that could jeopardize security and is not directly related to an airport employee's duties.

Senator Joyal: What problems do you encounter most often with passengers in search operations? What kinds of complaints have you received from passengers who were subject to a search?

Mr. Duchesneau: I always said that the first three years after the creation of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority would be dedicated to managing people's fear. The farther September 11 recedes into the past, the more people have difficulty understanding why they have to deal with all the security measures.

At the management committee meetings, we decided we are now at the stage where we have to educate passengers. I said a little earlier that we intercept about 750,000 objects per year. I am not happy that we had to seize 750,000 objects. We are talking about thousands of hours of searching which are quite simply wasted.

We now want to create an information program for people so that they understand what they are allowed to bring on board, which would help us to reduce the number of wasted hours of searching, and which will make it easier for passengers to board the aircraft as soon as possible.

What I am trying to say is that since there is no clear relationship anymore between any potential danger and the justification for the measures, we had to deal with an increasing number of passengers who were upset by the searches they had to undergo. This is another reason why we want to begin educating people.

The 4,300 screening officers around the country have an extremely tough job and they work in extremely difficult conditions as well. We have very little time to determine whether a person represents a threat or not. The least we can do is protect our screening officers from physical or verbal abuse, or even assault, pure and simple.

Senator Joyal: Has that actually happened?

Mr. Duchesneau: It has.

Senator Joyal: If someone is unhappy with being searched, whom can that person turn to complain?

Mr. Duchesneau: In an average year, we receive about 100 or so complaints out of the 37 million passengers who go through the system.

Senator Joyal: How do you deal with these complaints? What process is followed in these cases?

Mr. Duchesneau: We follow a very rigorous process. The person is contacted as soon as possible. We receive the victim's version, the version of the complainant. We have set up cameras at our search points which enable us to see what actually happened.

We have received complaints of theft, for example. But after having looked at the videotape, we realized that it was simply another passenger who inadvertently took someone else's object. By immediately having access to the videotape, we can find the passenger who took the object as soon as possible and therefore solve the problem as quickly as possible, too.

I can assure you that given the number of passengers we search every year, the number of complaints is really quite small.

Senator Joyal: How do you ensure that your screening officers do not engage in racial profiling, which is an issue that was raised several times around this table?

Mr. Duchesneau: There is no racial profiling, because by law we must search every person who wants to go through a search point. There will be a second check if the passenger triggered the alarm, be it because metal or traces of explosives were detected on the person, or because our x-ray machine picked up something.

If indeed there is racial profiling, it is surely not at our level. I can tell you that I disagree with racial profiling. That is the commitment the management of this organization is giving you; you will never see our people engage in racial profiling. I could even tell you that it is the opposite. The 4,300 officers working across the country are surely the best example of Canada's diversity. Our officers speak over 100 different languages and come from over 120 different countries. These people are the face of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and they wear our uniform. I have a hard time seeing just why we would engage in racial profiling.

[English]

Senator Fraser: I wholly accept your personal commitment, but I am sure you know that one of the most frequent comments one hears is that in airport security lines, people who may look Arab, East Asian or Muslim — whatever that would be — feel that they are singled out disproportionately for extra screening. I take your point that everyone has to be screened.

I am a creature of habit, and when I travel I usually take the same things in my hand baggage. The paperback book will be different, but other than that it is the same. At the same airport, sometimes I am stopped and asked to open my bag after it has been looked at on the machine and sometimes I am not, even though I know that they see the same thing every time. Therefore, some form of discretion is being exercised. We get repeated indications from a community that feels particularly vulnerable right now that racial profiling is going on.

As I said, I fully accept your commitment that that is not part of your policy, but what do you do to stop it? Do you train your agents? Do you have policy statements? Do you have sensitization programs? How do you stop it? You cannot personally control the behaviour of every agent on the ground, so what do you do?

Mr. Duchesneau: As to bags containing the same objects being screened at the same screening point, if your bag is packed differently, it will show a different image. Every time we screen a person we make a judgment call. When looking at the screen depicting what is in bags, different people have different interpretations of what they see. The screeners are pushed by the other passengers who want to go through quickly, and they have to make a quick judgment call. They make it to the best of their knowledge.

Although I have a bit of training, I am not qualified to do their job. It is a difficult one. Even though we have state- of-the-art equipment, among the best in the world, a human being is required to make a judgment.

Equipment is only a tool. The final decision rests on a human being making a judgment call. That is difficult.

I can understand. I do not think there is a person in this country who is screened the way I am, because they know who I am and I receive the full treatment every time I go through. I get used to it; and I am proud. It does not annoy me because they are following the rules we have put in place.

We cannot become predictable. The day we become predictable is the day we become vulnerable. The bad guys cannot know how we will proceed all the time otherwise they will go around the system we are putting in place.

If we had the same system today that we put in place three years ago, I do not think I could stand before this committee saying, ``Listen, I think we are doing a great job because we have evolved.''

We have rules that we need to abide by. I would be more than delighted to discuss this in an in camera session because I do not want to give the bad guys the information they need, but regulations are there to ensure that we do our job properly. There are TC inspectors ensuring we follow the rules. We have regional managers doing the oversight. There is a lot of oversight and all screeners know that we are watching.

Senator Fraser: Let me come back to my question, if I might. Granted all the complexity of everything you have just said, and I do not want to be responsible for extracting confidential operational information, that is not what I am talking about.

I am talking about whether, in this intensive training program that people have had to go through, there is a component that teaches them specifically about racial profiling and how not to do it. Is there a formal policy statement anywhere that says, ``We do not do this?'' For that matter, is there a complaints mechanism?

Mr. Duchesneau: Madam Chairman, there is a complaints mechanism. I talked about training. It is not only about techniques to understand what you see on the screen. It is oriented toward customer service, racial profiling. Yes, we talk about that and we ensure that it does not happen.

As I said, we have a system in place whereby we receive about 100 complaints a year. We ensure that there is no component of racial profiling in those complaints. I get very irritated when I hear things like that.

Senator Fraser: I can understand that.

Mr. Duchesneau: Not your point. I want to make it clear that —

Senator Fraser: This is my last question on the topic.

Is it possible that the level of sophistication of your agents has increased over the past three years; that at the beginning of this great fear, we might in fact have seen something that an outsider would think was racial profiling?

Mr. Duchesneau: I would like to say yes, and I am convinced this is the case.

Did you know that a person who does not comply with our standard operating procedure is decertified on the spot? That means he has no job until he is retrained. I think our screeners operate in a very professional way and they get the message.

That was part of the message when we travelled the country to meet with our front-line screeners. There are things we can accept and things that we do not accept — racial profiling being at the top. They got the message from us directly.

Have we improved? I hope so.

Can we improve? Absolutely we will.

We met this lady from the United States who was on a plane that was hijacked in 1985. She was shot in the head and left for dead on the tarmac, and she is now part of our training. If you want good reasons for why we should be doing a good job, she is the person to look to.

The Chairman: Thank you very much.

We have 20 minutes left. We will do a second round, and I would encourage colleagues to be as concise as possible, in case each of you wants a chance.

Senator Andreychuk: Can you tell me who puts objects on the list of prohibited items? Is it your task or does it come from someone else?

Mr. Duchesneau: It is Transport Canada, and I have to tell you that they usually do that in consultation with other countries and also the International Civil Aviation Organization, out of Montreal.

It is a standard from all countries around the world. Of course, we have to keep in mind we are neighbours of the United States so we need to dance together.

The new administrator of the Transport Security Administration in the United States has openly stated that he will review the prohibited items list and Transport Canada has also mentioned that this will be part of the ongoing five-year review.

Senator Andreychuk: Do you get a circular once a month, or how often do you get something that says this is the list you are now to deal with? It seems to have changed. You pointed out that part of the problem is that people have things and they do not know whether they should. You need to educate the public. I agree with that. Certainly one of the frustrating things is the once-a-year travellers who want to take everything with them for their grand holiday and do not know the system; and then we have the routine passengers who know the system. We do bump up against each other.

The list has changed, and how does the public get to know that when in many cases they are minor items like nail clippers, which was on and then off? How does one find out about it? How do you find out about it?

Mr. Duchesneau: Would you believe that three to four years after 9/11 we still have people coming to screening points with loaded weapons? It does not have to be a nail clipper. We intercept a lot of those.

Senator Andreychuk: With respect, people with loaded weapons would have a certificate. If you rely on tourism and hunting, as Saskatchewan does, people will come with a certificate that they thought was valid. Now, it is not at the security, it is at the airlines, and then they are told, ``We do not accept that kind of certificate'' or ``We did not know about this.''

I am asking how the public gets to know about this in a consistent way.

Mr. Duchesneau: Through better education, and also we have a website, but Mr. Duncan works on that. It is his field.

Marc Duncan, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority: One of our most difficult issues is public education. In the case of the prohibited items list, as Mr. Duchesneau mentioned, we must harmonize on an international basis, particularly with the United States.

Canada has some slight differences, again because of Canadian characteristics. For example, almost a year ago, we put knitting needles and tennis rackets back on the list.

That was an issue post-9/11. Everyone clamped down and the list of sharp items increased, et cetera. However, we have harmonized some of those.

We need to do a lot more work on that but it is difficult because we always have to balance with the U.S., the U.K. In fact, in the European Union they have many debates over this because they are trying to standardize that list among a number of countries.

We do have a website. We do put out information on a public basis. For example, we just had a release on hunting in Saskatchewan, because many people legitimately check their rifles, and then they forget and put all their ammunition in their pockets and go through the pre-boarding screening points. Obviously that causes a delay. We are aware of it, and one of our big challenges is to get that information out.

Senator Andreychuk: You pointed out one of the problems I have seen. There have been altercations when travellers have gone through two or three security checks somewhere in the world, and then were told they can no longer take an item on board. The person stands there saying, ``But I have already gone through. This is important to me. I will never be back through this airport again.'' That seems to hold up the line more than anything these days.

Mr. Duchesneau: We had one case of a gentleman leaving Edmonton. He had to go through the screening point, and he was asked to surrender whatever item. He decided to go back to the airline counter and say, ``Give me my money back. I will take the bus to Vancouver.'' Yes, we face that on a daily basis. That is why I reiterate the fact that our screeners need our support, because they have a tough job to do.

Senator Andreychuk: My final question, are you alerted at any time by the security services to a questionable character? You say your raison d'être is the objects on a person. That is why we are frisked. That is why they look at our bags. It is objects, objects, objects. Are you ever alerted to the fact that there is a suspicious character and he is tenth in the line or something like that, to the extent that you can tell me that?

Mr. Duchesneau: That is a good question. Over the last three years, I do not recall one instance where we got that type of information, because it would be for the police to intervene before the person gets to the airport. Senior executives have a top security clearance. What we receive most of the time is non-specific threats, new threats that might be facing the aviation industry. Then it is for us to take the decisions on how we deploy either equipment or human resources. It is not based on names of specific individuals. That does not come under our jurisdiction. Then the RCMP, most of the time, or a police service would get involved.

Senator Andreychuk: Are all employees at the airport screened routinely for objects?

Mr. Duchesneau: We screen approximately 2,300 a day now. Eventually, we will be augmenting the number. It is under a regulation, and it is random screening.

[Translation]

Senator Joyal: Mr. Duchesneau, could you tell us whether you have been in contact with the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness set up in spring, with a mandate to ensure that the needs and sensitivities of Canada's multicultural communities are kept in mind when security measures are being drafted?

Mr. Duchesneau: No. I am aware that Minister McLellan did indeed set up such a committee, but we have not had any contact with it.

Michael McLaughlin, Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority: I attended the Vancouver meeting of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security. The participants questioned me on our procedure, I explained all that we have done, and they were most satisfied with our process.

Senator Joyal: Section 33 of the CATSA Act provides that CATSA shall submit a report to the Minister of Transport five years after its inception. You have already been in existence for around 3 years. What areas do you feel require attention in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your services?

Mr. Duchesneau: In the context of the five-year review that the minister will shortly be announcing, we will be focusing on four points. First, the matter of greater flexibility at an operational level, by which I mean ensuring that we are not so tightly bound by regulations that we are unable to respond to the various threats with which we are confronted on a daily basis. Second, we need to ensure greater financial flexibility. Our budgets are currently allocated a year prior to funding being released, which means that, were a new threat to arise today, we would have had to apply for funding for it a year ago. That is not how the world of terrorism works. As a group, terrorists constantly question their practices. They perhaps have substantial research and development budgets, and they certainly have a lot of ideas. Indeed, one of the perverse effects of the security measures that we have implemented is, perhaps, that it has become so difficult to carry out a terrorist attack in an airport, that terrorists now seek alternatives. Third, we need to focus on access to intelligence allowing us to understand emerging trends in terrorism. Once again, our focus will not be on the specifics, but on general trends. Fourth, we are looking to work in closer collaboration with our colleagues at Transport Canada.

Senator Joyal: After having studied the U.S. baggage and airport personnel screening systems, are you able to say that Canada's system is comparable, if not superior, to that of the United States?

Mr. Duchesneau: We are very proud of the results that we have achieved, and when compared to other countries, I am confident that we rank among the best. We at CATSA took the initiative of organizing annual meetings — which are, in fact, sometimes bi-annual meetings — with my counterparts from the 15 countries that are perhaps the most proactive in the field of air transport security. We shall be going to Israel in February. Our meetings take the form of a round table, like this one, and afford us the opportunity to discuss both best practices and new techniques that could prove useful to our work, as well as the current state of the terrorist threat around the world. In Israel, for example, terrorism is an everyday reality. There were more than 400 suicide attacks last year, and the Israelis have, therefore, become experts in the matter. There is no doubt that, these days, the suicide bomb is the terrorists' weapon of choice. We have to be aware of this. We exchange information. CATSA has just introduced a system whereby we can post a problem on the Internet, and our colleagues from around the world can help us to find solutions. It is by sharing information that we will always stay one step ahead of the terrorists.

Senator Joyal: Do you have any ties at all with IATA?

Mr. Duchesneau: Yes, we do. I am just back from Geneva where, two weeks ago, during IATA's annual conference on aviation security, I gave a conference on the state of play in the aviation sector. Once again, Canada played a leading role. There were Canadian representatives in virtually all of the workshops, and people really wanted to find out about what we are doing. Many countries pay lip service to security, but we have already introduced systems that have not got past the drawing board in other countries.

Senator Joyal: What is the legal relationship between CATSA and the air carriers association in the event of an on- board terrorist attack? Is it not correct to say that passengers could sue the Government of Canada, CATSA and the air carrier, given that the Government of Canada has undertaken to provide a certain level of security?

Mr. Duchesneau: I do not like to boast, but Canada was the first country approved for anti-terrorism insurance by London underwriters.

As you know, all airlines were refused insurance coverage against terrorist attacks after 9/11. However, thanks to the systems that we introduced here in Canada, we were the first country to be approved for insurance against terrorism, to the tune of one billion U.S. dollars, in addition to what the government provides.

[English]

Senator Fraser: I do not know whether this question is internally logical or not, but I wonder: Do you have different criteria, different levels of assessment, depending on where a passenger is going, such as more intense examination for foreign travel, more intense examination for travel to the United States? No? Is it the same for everyone, long haul versus short haul?

Mr. Duchesneau: We have special rules for U.S. travel because we have to abide by U.S. regulations for all transborder flights.

Senator Fraser: That was to be my second question. If you do have differential levels who sets them?

Mr. Duncan: We have a special situation in Canada with pre-clearance, where you are cleared through customs, and in that case the U.S. has asked for an additional level of screening. If you are flying to the U.S. from Europe, you will notice an additional screening at the gate before you get on a U.S. flight. With the cooperation of the TSA, we have an additional level of screening for U.S. pre-clearance points only. That is basically an additional layer of random screening. We do that in collaboration with the U.S. and it is a separate screening point from the normal domestic points.

Senator Fraser: I am trying to remember the last time I flew to the United States. I do not think I went through more than one security check, but is it just that at the security pre-clearance point there is a more intensive level?

Mr. Duncan: You are selected for random screening of a secondary search.

Senator Fraser: Under rules, I assume, that are mutually agreed on.

Mr. Duncan: There are rules around that.

Senator Fraser: Have you had any reason to dispute the nature of what the Americans want you to do? Have there been any occasions where you said no, this is getting too intrusive and goes beyond what our laws would sanction?

Mr. Duncan: Again, in terms of harmonization with Transport Canada, all of the regulations that we work with are based on the Aeronautics Act. They are Canadian. Transport Canada does a good job of specifying privacy limits, et cetera. The minister was talking about passenger protection. All of our regulations, everything we do, have to respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our bilingualism requirements, et cetera. Yes, when we sit down with the TSA and develop our standard operating procedures, we have slight differences in how we implement them in Canada, for example, versus what they might do in France. Again, we respect all of our requirements and they are Canadian regulations, not U.S. regulations.

Senator Fraser: You mentioned France, but I was really asking about the United States.

Mr. Duncan: That is correct.

The Chairman: Thank you for coming. It is important that we hear from you because all of us travel endlessly and have our own frustrations and questions. You have been very helpful today and I thank you for it.

Mr. Duchesneau: I hope you feel safe when you travel.

The Chairman: Absolutely.

You do a really good job at the Lethbridge airport, and they do not have scanners.

Honourable senators, we are adjourned until 3:30.

The committee adjourned.