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The Myth of Security at Canada’s Airports

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

Second Session-Thirty-Seventh Parliament

January 2003

III.  Dealing With Potential Threats Concealed in Checked Baggage, Parcels and Mail

The responses of Canadian authorities to the incidents of September 11 – incomplete as Section II shows them to be – have been almost entirely aimed at the threat of terrorists taking over the cockpits of aircraft by sneaking suicidal attackers on board. This, of course, remains a legitimate threat. But as more than one witness pointed out to the Committee, with increased focus on cabin security, terrorists are now more likely to target something more unguarded, like the soft underbelly of a passenger plane – the hold.  

Our hearings reinforced Committee members’ concerns that screening of material that goes into the hold of Canadian passenger aircraft is done so rarely that it is almost non-existent. Some intermittent screening does take place when someone believes that they have cause to be suspicious, and some more sophisticated electronic screening equipment has been installed at Vancouver International Airport and other places. But – other than on flights to Reagan International – if the screening of passengers’ carry-on luggage were rated at 9 out of 10, screening of the contents of the hold on the average Canadian flight might generously rate a 1.  

In other parts of this report it will become clear that police are well aware that Canada’s airports have become infiltrated by organized crime, and that part of organized crime’s success at airports is their ability to move packages and baggage in and out of terminals without being subjected to scrutiny. Rigorous scrutiny would clearly make life difficult for criminals operating at airports, but more importantly, it would make life much more problematic for potential terrorists.


Checked Baggage 


Senator Atkins: Aug. 15, 2002: “In terms of the process, from the time that the bag is checked in through the conveyer belt down to where you are, is there a random check of baggage? I know there is not a complete check, because we have been told that.” 

Dave McLeod, Lead Station Attendant, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers [Oversees baggage and ramp operations at Pearson]. “No, there is not. When that bag is checked in, that is it . . . there is nothing that we screen or check the bags with once the passengers have checked them in.”



One good thing that has happened regarding baggage security at Canadian airports since September 11, 2001, is this: if a person who has checked baggage does not get on a plane, their baggage is pulled off. Canada has been ahead of the United States for many years in this regard on international flights, but since September 11 the rule has also been applied to domestic flights.  

But the rest of the checked baggage story at Canadian airports is not a pretty tale. The Committee was told that there are about 22 kilometers of moving baggage belts at Pearson’s Terminal 2 alone, and given that North America’s fifth-largest airport processes approximately 30 million passengers a year on very tight schedules, screening checked baggage would be a complex, resource-consuming, and more time-consuming process.  

Is it worth the cost? Realistically, it might never save a life. But if the premises we are operating on are that the terrorist threat to North America is likely to persist, and that passenger flights remain a prime target, what is the alternative?  

Confiscating passengers’ nail-clippers only masks the huge vulnerability represented by unscreened luggage in the hold.  


Sniffing Out Trouble 

There are various means of screening checked luggage, including attentive human beings, trained dogs, and electronic equipment. Even attentive human beings can only do so much when they are processing invisible contents. Dogs and their trainers are expensive, and limited in the number of hours that they can work.  

The main technology currently being employed to detect explosives are explosive vapour detection machines of the kind installed in Vancouver. They are large, often requiring reconfiguration of current terminal facilities, and expensive, at about $1 million per machine, plus upkeep. Their shelf life is estimated to be between 5-7 years. They often record “false positives” – one estimate we heard was as much as one out of five bags could send off a false alarm, which means time-consuming x-raying or opening of the baggage in question.  

While this technology can be expected to become more consistently reliable, it admittedly constitutes a significant extra chore for the air passenger industry. Delays of any sort cost the industry money.  

Again, what is the alternative? Not every bag needs to pass through every kind of screening mechanism. A layered approach to screening can send bags that have first raised alarms at vapour detectors to dogs, x-rays or manual searches. But some effective, layered combination is needed, and there must be enough excess capacity to cover peak periods and equipment breakdown.  

Passengers on Canadian flights are enduring much more rigorous and time-consuming check-ins and other types of inconvenience in an attempt to thwart repeats of disastrous terrorist attacks. They are also paying $24 per round-trip ticket, essentially to purchase insurance against terrorist attacks. If the hold clearly represents a weak link in the security chain, the Canadian air passenger industry must move quickly to forge a stronger link.  


Canada Two Years Behind 

The deadline that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set for member states to conduct 100 per cent screening of checked bags for explosives is Jan. 1, 2006. Canada – through the newly created Canadian Aviation Transport Security Authority – expects to meet or beat that deadline, but has not set an earlier deadline for itself.  

The United States initially set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2003, and then realized that was unrealistic for compliance at each and every airport. Some airports have been given extensions. However, the best information that the Committee has been able to obtain indicates that all but a couple of dozen American airports will meet the original Jan. 1, 2003 target. To be fair, several of those that have been unable to meet the deadline are among the largest ones.  

We received various explanations as to why Canadian authorities do not seem as anxious as American authorities to get this screening in place quickly.  

On Nov. 25, 2002, Jacques Duchesneau, President of CATSA, suggested that the equipment to do this screening simply might not be available: “…There are only a few companies in the world that can produce those machines...” Two days later, William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, noted that CATSA’s funding has been spread out over five years, suggesting that equipment might have to be purchased from year to year as funds became available. He also observed that the logistical problems of installing such large equipment might be slowing things down. Finally, Mr. Elliott pointed out that the Americans had set the earlier deadline based on their perception of “risk,” which raised questions among some Committee members as to why there was such a sizable gap between the two countries’ perceptions of the degree of risk that exists.  

Both Mr. Elliott and Transport Minister David Collenette said that they had reason to believe that the U.S. deadline might be overly optimistic. Mr. Collenette said that Canadians have “always been a bit more cautious” about what should be able to be accomplished. At any rate, he said, it was not inconceivable that Canada could have electronic screening at the same time as the United States, which he later ratcheted up another notch to “we could come in ahead of the Americans.”  

The Committee would be pleasantly shocked to see Canada come in ahead of the United States, especially when a majority of American airports are already properly equipped to screen luggage and no Canadian airports that we know of are. Tempering our optimism, the Committee’s recommendation on page 55 reflects our assessment that a concerted effort will be required to bring Canada into compliance one year later than the American deadline. That concerted effort must be made.


Mail and Packages 

William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, December 2, 2002.  “ . . . I do not think there is a system for the comprehensive screening of mail.”  

(LATER) . . . I think that certainly mail is an area of concern.”  

Parcels and letters from Canada Post and packages from courier companies constitute a threat to Canadian passenger flights similar to that posed by unscreened luggage. In the early days of our hearings, the Committee operated under the illusion that there was at least some scrutiny of mail beyond random visual surveillance by postal employees emptying mailboxes. (These people might be expected to be alarmed if a package broke open and exposed sticks of dynamite or something resembling a bomb, but not many parcels break open and the contents of those that do not are concealed). Since the airlines are ultimately responsible for the safety of the cargo they carry, we were initially encouraged by exchanges such as the following:  


Sen. Kenny, June 24, 2002 : “We do not know whether mail is screened before it is carried aboard Air Canada flights.”


Iain Fernie, Regional Security Operations Manager, Air Canada: “Mail is screened.”


[LATER] Senator Kenny: “Do you or do you not rely on Canada Post’s screening?”


Mr. Fernie: “Anything that comes within the aerodrome environment is put through a security procedure, independent of any other measures in place by Canada Post or any outside contractors or any other government agency.”

Sen. Kenny: “Your screening stands alone. Is that what you are saying?”


Mr. Fernie: “Yes.”



Representatives of Canada Post later testified that any screening that it did simply amounted to visual scanning when employees pick up mail and perhaps as packages whirl through the system, with no electronic screening of any kind.   

Fifteen per cent of Canada’s mail is dispatched by air, most of it on passenger flights. It arrives at airports electronically unscreened. At that point, Transport Canada places the onus on the air carriers to take responsibility for its safety, as demonstrated by the following exchange, which took place following Senator Kenny’s exchange with Mr. Fernie:  


Senator Meighen, June 24, 2002:  “Security of mail is the responsibility of the carrier, as I read it.”


Paul Kavanagh, Regional Director, Security and Planning, Ontario, Region, Transport Canada: “That is correct.”


Senator Meighen: “In your auditing of that, do you permit them to rely on third-party verification?”


Mr. Kavanagh: “We allow them to rely on Canada Post verification.”


Senator Meighen: “To your knowledge, do carriers do any screening themselves, or do they rely on Canada Post verification?”


Mr. Kavanagh: “I am not aware of anyone who does independent verification. They meet with Canada Post to verify what they have in place.”



Why Should Mail Be Exempt? 

Several other quotes at the end of this section will reveal that Committee members have plenty of company in their anxiety over unscreened mail. It should be noted that while Canada Post’s competitors in the mail delivery industry often own or charter their own planes to deliver mail, Canada Post is much more reliant on passenger flights to get mail to its destinations, which include some of the most remote communities in Canada.  

While using passenger flights rather than cargo flights makes sense given Canada Post’s ubiquitous obligations, the Committee believes that if passenger planes are to be used, there is clearly an obligation to passengers to ensure that the mail in the hold be as carefully screened as checked baggage would be under the Committee’s recommendations. One Canada Post official told us that there is no one technology available to screen mail for all dangerous substances. But if there is technology being installed at airports to screen passengers’ baggage, it stands to reason that the same technology can screen mail.  

The following exchange illustrates why Committee members are convinced that it is essential that mail travelling on passenger planes be screened by other than random human observation:  


Senator Banks, Nov. 27, 2002: “Do you know whether anyone actually screens any of that mail [delivered to the airport]? … could I put contraband or something worse in a piece of mail, which is easy to do, and get it on to an airplane without anyone having looked at it?”


William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada:  “My understanding is the answer to that question is yes.”



In addition to Canada Post’s mail, Canadian airlines handle mail from private courier companies. The companies that deal regularly with the airlines are known as “known shippers.” While the companies themselves may be well known to the airlines, their employees are not even subjected to the kind of rudimentary background checks that airport employees or Canada Post employees must undergo. Nor are their parcels screened when delivered to the terminal. The Committee heard testimony that signing a simple waybill, in use for many years in the industry, is sufficient to get a specific package on a specific plane.


Here are examples of some of the other testimony the Committee heard on this issue:  


Sen. Banks, Nov. 27, 2002: “…What happens to the bag I give to the check-in attendant?…”


William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada. Nov. 27, 2002. “The answer to your question is, unfortunately, it depends. It depends to some extent on who you are. It depends to some extent where you are travelling. Your bag could be searched by physical or other means; that is, by x-ray or explosives detection or dogs.”


Sen. Forrestall: “Is it?”


Mr. Elliott:  “In too many cases, the answer to your question is no.”


(LATER) Mr. Elliott: “A significantly larger number of bags are being searched now than were being searched prior to September 11.”


Sen. Banks: “Does that include domestic flights?”


Mr. Elliott: “I am less certain about that.”


(STILL LATER)  Mr. Elliott: “I do not think we have established exactly where we need to go or how soon we need to get there with respect to cargo.”



Art Laflamme, Senior Representative, Air Line Pilots Association International, Aug. 14, 2002:  “[One of our concerns is that cargo] is not generally screened. The system relies on shippers to verify the security of the cargo. We feel that this creates vulnerability with respect to all. The mail presents a particularly difficult area of concern.” 

Chuck Wilmink, Consultant, Former Corporate Security Manager, Canadian Airlines, Nov. 4, 2002: “They have ordered explosive vapour detection machines. This is a tool, but not a silver bullet. They have two machines in the Vancouver Airport right now that can handle 200 bags an hour. There are 1,200 bags now going through the system, so they cannot check every bag. They are also very expensive, very hard to maintain, and have a high false-positive rate. One out of every five bags comes back with ‘yes it has a weapon in it,’ and it has to be hand-searched. It is time-intensive, requires a lot of security screeners, and is not effective. It is a security tool – but once you build it, people try to break it. It will not be the silver bullet that guarantees security.” 


Sen. Kenny, June 24, 2002: “Are any of those bags X-rayed?”


Larry Fleshman, General Manager, Customer Service, Toronto, Air Canada: “Yes, some bags are X-rayed.”


Sen. Kenny: “What percentage would that be?”


Mr. Fleshman: “I cannot give you that percentage.”

Sen. Kenny: “How about you, Mr. Fernie?” 

Iain Fernie, Regional Security Operations Manager, Air Canada: “I do know the answer, sir, but I am not at liberty to discuss the matter at this time.”




William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, Dec. 2, 2002. “ . . . I do not think there is a system for the comprehensive screening of mail.”

(LATER) “I think that certainly mail is an area of concern. There is one distinguishing characteristic of mail as opposed to passengers, and that is, generally, if I mail something, I do not know what airplane it is going to be on.” 

Sen. Kenny:  “This Committee has received testimony that it is possible, simply by the timing of taking a parcel to the airport, to ensure that it will be on a certain flight.”

Mr. Elliott:  “We have requirements in place that should prevent that.” 

Sen. Forrestall:  “I have the sometimes pleasant, sometimes unpleasant, task of shipping lobsters, and I want someone at the airport to meet that flight. So far, I have not had any problems. How did I do that?”


Mr. Elliott: “I would be happy to look into that, senator.”



Chuck Wilmink, Former Corporate Security, Manager, Canadian Airlines, Nov. 4, 2002: “…The current status of airport security is not very good. I could take anyone in this room and in two minutes train that person on how to put a bomb on an airplane for any city in the world. If you are willing to pay the first-duty shipping fee, we can guarantee what flight you will be on – it is that wide open…” 


Senator Forrestall, August 15, 2002: “Is the [security checking] process all done by humans?”


Bob Stiff, General Manager, Corporate Security, Canada Post August 15, 2002:  “That is quite correct . . . There is no technical system, senator, for random testing of mail. We rely heavily on security awareness and the knowledge base of our employees as they are handling the product in the system.”


To deal with the problems outlined in Section III, THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS: 

III.1 Dedicated and trained personnel should immediately begin carrying out random and targeted screening of all checked baggage, parcels, mailbags, and cargo.  

III.2 CATSA should implement full multi-layer screening (vapour detection supplemented by x-rays and other kinds of searches) of all checked baggage, mailbags and cargo by January 1, 2004.  

III.3 The practice of offering blanket security shortcuts on the basis of being a “known shipper” shipping by air carrier should be discontinued. The Committee encourages the development of a protocol for shippers based on their known reliability, similar to the one currently being introduced under the Smart Borders arrangement with the United States.  

III.4 People, cargo and aircraft coming from small airports without sophisticating screening systems should receive a full screening when they arrive at an airport under CATSA’s jurisdiction.

IV. Dealing with the Threat of Undercover Terrorists Operating Inside a Terminal 


Sen. Cordy, June 24, 2002:  “Certainly, for me, one of the scarier aspects of security is the number of people who do not go through any of the security systems we see for passengers, yet who have access . . . to airplanes coming in and taking off.”


Paul Kavanagh, Ontario Regional Director, Security and Planning, Transport Canada: “ . . . The people who come to the aircraft from the airside have an airport pass. They have gone through a check. We have good background on those people. They tend to be more trusted by us [than passengers]. I think that is very much the difference between a group of unknowns versus a group of knowns.”


Sen. Kenny, June 24, 2002: “If an [airside] employee had a box cutter in his or her pocket, would you know?


Paul Kavanagh, Ontario Regional Director, Security and Planning, Transport Canada:

 “We would not know. Employees who are employed on the airside are permitted tools of the trade because there is a myriad of work to be done on the airside. It is all part of the trust relationship that one has to have with the employees, through the pass systems and security checks.”


Sen. Kenny:  “…A baggage loader does not need a box cutter to do his job; however you still would not know if the baggage loader had a box cutter in his overalls?”


Mr. Kavanagh: “No.”



France Pelletier, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Airline Division, CUPE, Nov. 18, 2002: “…just the other day, a crew got onboard the aircraft and there was a box of cutters on one of the seats… We still do not know how that thing, how that box, got on board, but we are of the mind that the people who have access to that aircraft, whether it is the caterers that get on to the premises of the airport, that get on to the aircraft, that anybody who gets access to that aircraft is checked.”


Good Apples and Bad 

There are more than 80,000 persons employed or working on contract at Canadian airports or on Canadian airlines. As we noted earlier, these employees offer the greatest hope for good security in our air travel system – technology can complement human vigilance, but it cannot replace it.  

The other side of this human coin is that not all of these 80,000 people are saints. We know that some are associated with organized crime, which needs access to airports to move contraband in and out of Canada. In the words of Inspector Sam Landry, Officer in Charge of the Toronto Airport Detachment, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, on June 24, 2002:  

“Criminal organizations have penetrated many legitimate businesses throughout Canada to further their criminal enterprises. This trend is no different at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. The ability to move contraband undetected through the airport is essential to the success of their criminal activities. Of particular concern is the potential for internal conspiracy, coercion and intimidation of members of the airport community by organized crime groups. 

Of the 45,000 people currently attending to the daily needs and operations of the Toronto airport community, if organized crime recruited 1 per cent, it would represent 450 people.” 

There are, however, two considerations to be taken into account here. The first is that lax security works for organized crime at Canadian airports. The more holes these criminals can keep in the system, the more they can steal and the more contraband they can move.  

Terrorists may or may not be associated with organized crime, but they can make use of the same security gaps that work so well for organized crime. Which brings us to the second consideration. If organized crime – an element that authorities administering Canadian airports cannot seem to get rid of– is capable of placing anywhere near the 450 agents and accomplices that Inspector Landry suggests could be operating within the confines of Pearson International Airport, is not there some likelihood that at least a couple of patient and determined terrorist sympathizers could invade the system?

One would guess that the answer is yes.


Front Tight, Back Slack 

The fact is that security control over term and contract workers at Canada’s airports has been extremely lax. Unions have never wanted tough controls – as Paul Lefebvre, President of Local Lodge 2323, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, August 15, 2002, pointed out to us, the unions fought background checks several years ago when, as he said, “the world was a kinder and gentler place.” At the time these checks were considered an affront to workers’ dignity. However, the Committee strongly believes that there must be a balance between respecting and appreciating legitimate workers and weeding out people taking advantage of their workplace.  

In early testimony we discovered that airlines had no idea what airside employees carry around in their packsacks, tool kits and lunch boxes:  


Sen. Kenny, June 24, 2002: “Do you know whether Air Canada employees are bringing explosives or weapons to work with them?”


Larry Fleshman, General Manager, Air Canada Customer Service, Toronto: “We cannot say.”


Sen. Kenny: “Do you know the answer to that, Mr. Fernie?”


Iain Fernie, Regional Security Operations Manager, Air Canada: “No, I do not.”



This did not strike members of the Committee as an appropriate balance between respect and good judgment, particularly when passengers and aircrew are lining up at security counters and having nail clippers and memorial poppies confiscated. In fact, it struck us as a slack-minded approach to genuine security at airports. The eschewing of security searches, according to Mr. Kavanagh, is all part of the “trust relationship” that authorities must have with airport employees once they pass their security checks.  


How Security Checks Work. Sometimes. 

Security checks are officially conducted once every five years, if and when authorities get them done on time. These are not field checks. They are file checks. The RCMP checks its database to see whether criminal charges or convictions show up. The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) checks its database to determine whether a person pops up as a known security risk. Transport Canada is in charge of checking domicile, employment and creditworthiness records.  

If no alarm bells go off, the relationship of trust either begins, or continues. As William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, conceded on Nov. 27, CSIS does not normally conduct field checks on potential employees and  “a good record is not necessarily indicative of good behaviour in future . . . It certainly is not a foolproof system and we are looking at improving it.”   


WORTH NOTING: Eight of the ten people arrested two years ago for conspiracy to import drugs from Jamaica through Pearson Airport worked at the airport, and had passed security checks.



Hail Mary Passes 

If the security checks can best be described as perfunctory and fallible, the pass systems for workers moving in and out of restricted areas at Canadian airports might best be described as primitive and relaxed. Primitive, because some airports use identification passes (electronic, not biometric) that could be replicated for a small charge at a local photocopy shop. And relaxed, because we learned that too often workers pass through without anybody paying much attention.  

There are excellent passes now available that incorporate thumb or iris scans and can be cancelled electronically at a moment’s notice. But, so far, these are not widely employed at Canadian airports. There are vigilant security personnel who take searches seriously, even among friends. But according to the testimony we heard, not many.  

Then there is the issue of temporary workers. Some workers taken on as employees are allowed to work in restricted areas before they have background checks done by CSIS, CPIC, and Air Canada. They are allowed to work there only when accompanied by persons who have been cleared and have passes. But the Committee was told that one cleared employee might be responsible for five or six uncleared workers in a secure area. This seems a stretch if there is the slightest chance that one or more of those uncleared workers might have sabotage in mind.  

There is also the issue of forgery. Are passes at Canada’s airports really forged? Not all that often, according to Paul Kavanagh of Transport Canada, June 24, 2002. “We have not seen any evidence of what I would consider a significant amount of forged passes . . . I do not want to give out too much information as to where or how people could manufacture passes.” He did later concede, “Anything that we could do to enhance the pass system is something that we would welcome.”


Is This a Security Culture? 

Passes, too often, are not checked. But even when they are checked, in most airports they are simply checked for photo resemblance, and against a list of numbered passes that have been designated as defunct. That is, they are checked to ensure that the number on the pass does not correspond to a “bad” number. What if the pass has been forged and gives a number that is not legitimate, but nor has it been listed as defunct?  Incredibly, the system in most general use since September 11, 2001, is not designed to check against numbers that somebody makes up.  

When workers leave airport employment, they are required to turn in their passes to the companies that employed them. Of course, with companies like Canada 3000, the employer has exited the scene. It remains for Transport Canada to try to recover these passes, and with Canada 3000, many are still on the missing list. How many employees have left airport employment without turning in their passes?  

According to William Elliott, of Transport Canada, Dec. 2, 2002: “Unfortunately, the answer is we do not know.”  

(While Mr. Elliott was not willing to answer all the Committee’s questions, he did win general admiration for the candour of most of his responses.)  

Mr. Elliott outlined Transport Canada’s plans for improved passes, which, again, were well received, with the exception of the fact that it appears improvements to the system will be painfully slow in coming to fruition:  

William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, Dec. 2, 2002. “Transport Canada has looked at a number of different biometrics . . . my department has invested considerable resources in automated fingerprint identification systems. We have also done some work on iris scans. The Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency has invested in that technology . . . My expectation is that it may take about a year for this new system to be implemented.”… 

(LATER) “…we do not have a well-developed, detailed work plan. We are in the process of developing one.” 

(LATER) “The details need to be worked out, but my current expectation is that airports will likely continue to issue passes that relate uniquely to their facilities. The CATSA will likely issue passes that provide individuals with access to restricted areas at more than one airport.” 

(LATER) “I personally would like to see us get to the point where an individual would be issued a pass with biometric identifiers incorporated. That pass would be linked to a [centralized] database and to an access control system at the airport.” 

The Committee is in favour of a national, centralized system for passes. Even if local airport authorities do finally maintain the right to issue the passes for local employees, their issue must be based on national standards and the use of a national database for validation.


“Random” Means Willy-Nilly 

Next to Transport Canada’s inexplicable sluggishness in implementing reforms to pass systems, the Committee’s main complaint is that the Minister of Transport has expressed a preference for random checking of workers entering restricted areas, as opposed to the kind of 100 per cent checking system that passengers undergo.  

Mr. Collenette’s rationale, as expressed to the Committee on Dec. 2, 2002, was that full screening could be ordered during periods when there appeared to be an extraordinary threat, but was not envisioned during normal periods: “I hate to point this out in terms of security, but the problem there is that it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. There is only so much money you can throw at a problem.”  

It should be pointed out again that Transport Canada showed no interest in improving security with regard to airside workers before complaints began to arise from witnesses testifying before the Committee as to the inadequacies and unfairness of the current system. The Committee believes that the Minister should move quickly to ascertain the cost of searching all workers when they enter secure areas. The Minister put forth no evidence that such searches would be prohibitively expensive.  

Here are examples of some of the other testimony the Committee heard surrounding the issues in this section:  

Inspector Sam Landry, head of RCMP Detachment at Pearson International Airport, June 24, 2002: “Files that our members are working on and statistics show that there is significant organized criminal activity that exists at Canada’s largest inland border point . . . any infiltration of our border at Toronto Airport by the criminal element also has the potential of being exploited by those associated with extremism or terrorism.” 

Jacques Duchesneau, President and CEO, Canadian Air Transport Security Association, November 25, 2002: “I think random checking has its benefits. We need to not forget the fact that it is an industry. We need to make sure that this industry will continue to do its business. We can do checks of every employee every day, but this has a cost to it, so we need to have a very balanced approach.”

Art Laflamme, Senior Representative, Air Line Pilots Association International, August 14, 2002: “…we must assume that terrorists will be armed with other weapons, which could include guns or explosives pre-placed in aircraft, but not taken through passenger screening checkpoints . . . “APLA is of the view that an essential element of a properly functioning security system to counter terrorist acts must focus on controlling access to aircraft so that only properly identified persons who have reason to be at or on board an aircraft, be they airport or company workers, crew members, maintenance workers or passengers gain access. The present thrust, however, is to provide for security through screening points limited to passengers, crew members and other persons who access aircraft through a [check-in] screening point.”


Senator LaPierre, Aug. 15:  “Did you say that your lunch boxes and your knapsacks and the other things you take to work are inspected as if you were a passenger?”


Dave McLeod, Lead Station Attendant, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. [Oversees baggage and ramp operations]:  “Every day? No.”

Sen. LaPierre: “Once a month?”


McLeod:  “Once in a while.” 

(LATER) Senator Meighen: “We are trying to find out whether that scrutiny is rigorous or lax.” 

Mr. McLeod:  “In my opinion, no, it is not rigorous at all.” 

Sen. Meighen: “It is not rigorous?” 

Mr. McLeod: “No.” 


Art Laflamme, Senior Representative, Air Line Pilots Association International, Aug. 14, 2002: “We have known for some time that certain persons, almost certainly terrorists, have been stealing pilot uniforms and credentials. Creating a system that will prevent an impostor from gaining access to aircraft is long overdue . . . All airport employees, armed law enforcement officers, crew members and those who require access to an aircraft should be screened via electronic and biometric identity verification as soon as possible.” 

(LATER) “…we are perplexed and infuriated over the discrepancy. It does not make sense that there is 100 per cent checking on one side, but not on the other side. There must be an equivalent level of safety.”



Sen. Meighen, June 24, 2002: “Are you able to tell me whether, in the past, your employee ranks have been infiltrated by organized crime? In your opinion, is organized crime presently endeavoring to infiltrate your ranks?”


Larry Fleshman, General Manager, Customer Service, Toronto, Air Canada: “At this point in time, I have no knowledge of any infiltration or the fact that anyone is trying to infiltrate.”


Sen. Kenny: “…How about Mr. Fernie?”


Iain Fernie, Regional Security Operations Manager, Air Canada:  “An incident was well publicized two years ago, in 2000, in which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Air Canada corporate security entered into a joint investigation dealing with internal complicity in the importation of narcotics out of Jamaica.”



Richard Balnis, Senior Research Officer, CUPE, November 18, 2002: “…it appears that the minister assigned this issue [screening of airside employees] to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, but it looks like they will only do random screening, which is actually no more than the current status quo. We await further details, but this action appears to fall short of what is required.”


“ . . . Transport Canada hired consultants who confirmed that, for example, everyone entering the sterile area at Heathrow, any employee, would go through the same search procedure. It was a dedicated private channel, not mixed in with passengers, but nonetheless they would go through a search to make sure there was nothing problematic that they were bringing in. We are saying, at least be consistent here.”



Senator Meighen, Aug. 15, 2002: “My point is that if [the] groomer happened to be a nefarious character and you left, you would not see him putting something under the seat.”


Rob Deemert, Cabin Security, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. [Aircraft Groomer] “We have been instructed, on the DCA flights [to Reagan Airport], to watch everything.”

Sen. Kenny: “But on the other flights you leave and you are not watching everything?”


Mr. Deemart: “We just do the sweep.”



To deal with the problems outlined in Section IV, THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS: 

IV. 1 CATSA should issue national passes for air crew and all other persons who fall more naturally under a national, rather than a regional, jurisdiction. If local airport authorities are permitted to continue to issue passes allowing access to restricted areas at their airports, these local passes should be

  • Of national, uniform design, based on national configurations defined by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority,  

  • Cancelable by CATSA  

  • Validated through CATSA’s national database.


IV.2 All Canadian airports, by December 31, 2003, should introduce new electronic airside access passes, containing biometric identifiers, that

  • Are encoded to prevent access to zones beyond any employee’s work area

  • Expire automatically after three years  

  • Can be deactivated by a central control mechanism at any time

IV. 3 CATSA should be the issuing authority for passes for all employees, contract workers, other personnel and vehicles permitted airside access.  

IV. 4 CATSA should be responsible for assuring that these persons and vehicles are physically searched on entry to restricted areas at Canada’s airports. Persons and vehicles leaving those areas should be searched on a random basis, with provision for more extensive exit searches whenever extraordinary threats are perceived.  

IV. 5 The current 5-point background check for restricted area passes: Canada Police Information Centre (for criminal record), CSIS (for potential security threats), and Transport Canada (domicile, employment background and credit records) should be conducted every three years, replacing the current schedule of every five years.

V. Dealing with the Threat of Subversives Operating from the Outskirts of the Airport 

Witness 2 (Aviation business owner) in camera, June 24, 2002: “If you look at a map of [an] airport, what you see are very large buildings adjacent to the ramps, almost adjacent to the runways, often adjacent to the taxiways. They include freight forwarders, [commercial aircraft] operations like my own, aircraft refurbishers and maintenance shops and the people who do all the line provisioning. Many of those buildings with direct ramp access are filled with people who are not screened or badged, who have no security credentials at all . . . They have direct access to aircraft. There is no control and no background screening of any sort . . . “ 

The issue of security outside of the terminal building is of great concern to the Committee. We heard testimony stating that there are vehicles and individuals who service airplanes as well as businesses such as caterers, and freight forwarders, who are clustered close to ramps and taxiways with workers who have no security clearances. As the above witness, who operates adjacent to a major terminal, stated:  

“. . .whatever is done at the gates does not catch or address the real scope of the problem. The problem is that there are trucks, cars and individuals in the thousands flowing into the ramp areas just in order to service the airplanes. These people are nominally badged people, but if you think that all the vehicles or badges are checked, you would be wrong.” 

In addition to this, there is the problem of businesses that are located completely outside the airport grounds, but whose workers handle food, cargo and fuel, which is taken to the airports and loaded onto planes.  

Aircrew on scheduled flights and workers employed at Canadian airports are not the only persons who have access to aircraft at terminals. The following persons are among those with such access:  

  • Employees/visitors at airport operations on the perimeter of restricted areas  

  • Air crew and passengers on private aircraft 

  • Mail deliverers and freight forwarders  

  • Food and fuel suppliers  

  • Construction workers  

Some of these people do not have passes. Some never have their passes checked. As of November, 2002, those who are searched physically are done so only randomly, which the Committee interprets to be infrequently.


Airport Neighbours with Neighbourly Access To Ramps and Runways 

Both inside and just outside most airport fences, there is a wide range of businesses with ready access to airport ramps and runways.  They include maintenance shops, aircraft refurbishers, cargo forwarders, food service providers and air charter businesses.  These operations – a vital part of the airport economy – also constitute one of the weakest links in the airport security chain.  

Although they have direct access to airside – ramps and runways are often just outside their unguarded back doors  – they are populated by all kinds of employees and visitors whose backgrounds have not been adequately checked, and people who have no security credentials at all.  

There is little formal process to control access to the airside of these businesses in order to ensure that employees without restricted area passes do not venture onto the ramps or runways.  Passengers in the private aircraft, corporate jets and charter aircraft are not screened, nor is their carry-on baggage checked before they board.  

These enterprises do not just operate small commuter aircraft.  They include corporations such as FedEx, Sky services and Transat, which fly some of the biggest aircraft available, Boeing 727s and A-320s.  

Transport Canada claims that it monitors to ensure that airport authorities have security measures in place to prevent persons without passes who are either working at, or visiting, buildings located on the perimeters of restricted areas from accessing those restricted areas:  

Paul Kavanagh, Regional Director, Security and Planning, Ontario Region, Transport Canada, June 24, 2004. “We control where [the airport authorities] define the restricted area, and we monitor the process they have in place, for people to move from that non-restricted area into the restricted area.” 

This monitoring appears to consist mainly of “records” inspections of the companies concerned.  

We were also told that in order for a vehicle to cross a perimeter line it must have a permit issued by the airport authority and that the occupants of a vehicle must have a need and a right of entry to get past the fence, but that access is rarely challenged:  


Witness 2 (Aviation company owner) in camera, June 24, 2002: “There is a guard, and a fence . . . adjacent to the Kilo Taxiway [at Pearson International]. There is a guard there, a very nice gentleman I suspect, but he is mostly asleep when I see him. He does not ever go out to an airplane and say: “Stop, I want to inspect.”


Sen. Kenny: “Does he stop a car?”


Witness 2:  “He may.”


Sen. Kenny: “You have never seen him stop a car?”


Witness 2:  “No.”


Sen. Kenny: “Have you ever seen that, Witness 1?”


Witness 1:  “I have been out there, and I have never seen him leave the booth. As Witness 2 said, 99 times out of 100, he is asleep.”


Sen. Kenny:  Witness 3, have you ever seen him stop a car?”


Witness 3:  “I would have to agree with these two gentlemen. I have never seen him stop a car.”



And this is a guarded gate. But not all gates, doors and passageways are guarded.  

Committee members believe that the same security standards that are applied within the main terminal should be applied to periphery access to ramps and the tarmac. It could be argued that, because of the lack of security surrounding them, these operations pose a potentially greater risk to the travelling public than do those operating out of the main terminal.  

Again, what is the point of locking the front door if the side and back doors are virtually wide open?  


Private Aircraft 

Witness 2 (Aviation company owner) in camera, June 24, 2002: “ . . . my largest airplane fully fuelled would do a considerable amount of damage. It is not a 767, but it could probably destroy a building in this city.”

Private aircraft often come and go from Canadian airports with little supervision other than air traffic control. While at some airports air traffic control does advise Customs and Immigration officials on private arrivals, with intermittent customs inspections taking place, this is often not the case. At some airports, pilots are obliged to use a telephone service to register their arrival. But enforcement is haphazard, as this exchange makes clear:  

Norman Sheridan, Director, Customs Passenger Programs, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, June 24, 2002:  “Private aircraft are required to report to the telephone reporting centre.” 

Sen. LaPierre:  “Let us say they do not, sir.” 

Mr. Sheridan:  “Are you saying they land the aircraft and leave the aircraft?” 

Sen. LaPierre: “Does that happen . . .?” 

Mr. Sheridan: “That happens . . . When the air traffic control towers were privatized to NAV CANADA, the information about an aircraft as it travels through the various sectors and through the air traffic control points was no longer provided to Customs…” [This] has not been corrected, senator, since September 11. However, I understand there are discussions ongoing in headquarters with various agencies and departments . . . They are looking at working with Transport in trying to find a way to get that information back to Customs.” 

Mr. Sheridan said he would get back to the Committee as to how these discussions are going. In late December he reported that flights are still arriving without NAV Canada advising Customs.  

It is not just that Customs and Immigration are not always advised by NAV Canada when private flights have arrived. It is also that Customs officers often do not meet and inspect aircraft when they have been informed of their arrival:  


Paul Kavanagh, Regional Director, Security and Planning, Ontario Region, Transport Canada, June 24, 2002: “Our regulations do not require the screening of passengers on business aircraft, but we require a log of the names of people going on the aircraft. They keep names as opposed to putting the people through a screening process.”


Sen. Day: “In terms of what they are bringing on and off and what they are bringing in?”


Mr. Kavanagh: “There is no control on that. Again, it is up to the operator. We always tell them that they have to know their passenger.”



It is the opinion of the Committee that private aircraft are being afforded privileges at Canadian airports inconsistent with tight security, or, indeed, any measure of security. This is a grievous oversight in an era in which the government is spending $1.2 billion of other travellers’ money to counter a continuing terrorist threat.  

If there is nothing to stop a terrorist from hijacking, stealing or stowing away on a private aircraft, potentially to gain access to persons or baggage going aboard larger aircraft at Canadian airports, authorities should be checking passengers and baggage on these aircraft just as they are checked on regularly scheduled flights.  

Private aircraft departing any of the 89 airports now under CATSA’s supervision should not leave until passengers and their baggage have been searched. Private aircraft departing from any other airport should be searched on arrival, whether they arrive from private air fields in Canada or any locations in foreign countries. These aircraft are ending up airside at major Canadian airports without any assurance to the travelling public that they have ever been searched.  


Mail Carriers, Freight Forwarders 

The Committee was told that Canada Post personnel are not searched when they bring mail to areas accessible to passenger aircraft. These employees, of course have at least undergone background checks in order to gain employment at the Crown corporation. There is no requirement that freight forwarders working on the perimeter of air terminals have any such background checks. As one witness made clear, these people also have access to passenger aircraft:  

Witness 2 (aviation company owner) in camera, June 24, 2002: . . . “you only have to walk down the street from where the northside operators are to find some of the freight forwarders. Employees of the freight forwarders do not need to go past a policeman to get themselves or dangerous substances or devices onto the main runways or under the terminals.  

Such persons, if they are intent on doing harm to us, might simply insert an envelope with dangerous substances or a small device into a parcel, which goes right into a container which goes into the hold of an Air Canada airplane and . . . ‘boom’.”  

Background checks are not done on employees at freight forwarding companies – even those designated as “known carriers” that usually have a good idea which flights their packages will be leaving on to arrive in another city by a designated time.  


Sen. Kenny, June 24, 2002:  “Do you see some inconsistency in having Canadian and Security Intelligence Service checks and criminal record checks of people who are working around planes, but not having checks of people who are handling packages that go forward with relatively less scrutiny?”


Paul Kavanagh, Regional Director, Security and Planning, Ontario Region, Transport Canada: “ . . . A line has to be drawn with respect to who is going to go through the clearance program. The number of people would increase exponentially if we were dealing with the feeder companies into carriers.”



The Committee’s view is that requiring reliable background checks on the employees of feeder companies that enjoy easy access to restricted areas at Canadian airports need not be a cost to either Canadian taxpayers, nor to the travelling public.


Airports create great profits for companies that benefit from access to them. There is no reason that companies with “back end” access to these airports should not pay for the cost of employee background checks.

There appear to be serious lapses in perimeter and non-terminal security. Persons working in or having access to restricted areas should be subject to similar security measures as inside workers. Individuals and companies working in these areas must go through proper security clearance checks. A monitoring system should be put in place to track vehicles operating in these areas. Perimeter security should include a security pass system, plus searches, before vehicles and individuals are allowed through the perimeter line.  

The Committee notes that the Aviation Security Advisory Committee has recommended to Transport Canada that there should be a re-assessment of the adequacy of the current standards and/or practices as they apply to perimeter security at airports. We concur.  

To deal with the problems outlined in Section V, THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS: 

(This Recommendation repeated  from Section IV)

IV. 4 CATSA should be responsible for assuring that these persons and vehicles are physically searched on entry to restricted areas at Canada’s airports. Persons and vehicles leaving those areas should be searched on a random basis, with provision for more extensive exit searches whenever extraordinary threats are perceived.

This Recommendation Repeated from Section IV)

IV. 5 The current 5-point background check for restricted area passes: Canada Police Information Centre (for criminal record), CSIS (for potential security threats), and Transport Canada (domicile, employment background and credit records) should be conducted every three years, replacing the current schedule of every five years.  

(This is a New Recommendation Contained Only in Section V)

V. 1   Transport Canada should require that private aircraft departing airports under CATSA’s supervision should not leave until aircraft, passengers and their baggage have been screened. Private aircraft departing from any air facility not supervised by CATSA should be searched on arrival, whether they arrive from private air fields in Canada or any locations in foreign countries in order to ensure the integrity of security at Canadian airports.

VI.  Dealing with the Threat of Terrorists Attacking Aircraft from Beyond the Perimeter of an Airport 

The final point the Committee wishes to make in this area concerns the threat of terrorist attacks from outside the perimeter on non-airport lands. Recent terrorist attacks on aircraft using shoulder-held missile launchers highlight the serious need for enhanced security. In particular, the Committee feels that the practice of allowing spectators and their vehicles to collect at both ends of the runway, even if off the field proper, is an invitation to disaster.  

The Committee takes note of the threat posed to civil aviation by the thousands of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles that are readily available in the weapons marketplace. Aircraft flight paths are within range of these missiles for several kilometers, on both landings and takeoffs.  

To equip commercial aircraft with counter-measures capable of deflecting these missiles would cost in the order of $3 million per aircraft. While Transport Canada should continue to monitor risks and costs in this area, the Committee does not recommend this expenditure on all or even most Canadian aircraft at this time.  

To deal with the issues raised in Section VI, THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:  

No recommendations at this time.

VII.  Improving Airport Policing 

The Committee has a number of concerns regarding airport policing including: the fragmentation of policing services; reductions in staff numbers; the deployment of police at security check points; and the need for a single overarching federal police agency.  

For a start – based on testimony the Committee heard at fact-finding trips to airports in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver – police forces at Canada’s airports appear understaffed. Furthermore, while many witnesses gave the local police forces in charge of criminal investigations at these airports good grades it is not always clear at major airports as to which force is in charge when it comes to an emergency relating to security, and how much cooperation and coordination there will be.  

In provinces in which the RCMP is the provincial police force, the lines are usually clearer. But in some provinces, like Ontario and Quebec, the RCMP investigates federal offences such as organized crime and terrorism at airports, while local police forces handle issues like assault and traffic violations. Contracted security personnel handle other issues.  All this complicates the issue of who is in charge in emergency situations.  

At Pearson International Airport, Inspector Sam Landry, in charge of the RCMP detachment at the airport, sent the Committee a list of 56 agencies [see appendix V] with regulatory or enforcement powers in his jurisdiction. The major police forces include the RCMP (responsible for enforcing federal statutes), Peel Regional Police (the police of primary jurisdiction handling most criminal investigations), Toronto Police Service, the OPP, with representation from the regional police forces of Halton, York, Hamilton Wentworth and Niagara, plus the Military Police. For a start, the Committee is concerned that with this many forces in operation at one airport, there is a risk of a lack of coordination, cooperation and information sharing in the provision of security services.  

In the words of Witness 3, a former head of a drug squad with 28 years of police experience whom the Committee questioned in camera on June 24, 2002: 

“My experience at the [Pearson] airport is petty bickering between law enforcement, i.e. Customs, RCMP, Toronto, Peel, OPP. Nobody wants to share; it is my cake and I am going to eat it. They have that mentality. That has to be overcome…” 

Don Johnson, President, Air Canada Pilots Association, testified on Nov. 4, 2002.  “… what we are looking for here is an oversight board or group of people who will set the standard and then see that it is enforced, so that, whether a new police chief comes in or not, they will ensure that the standard is enforced everywhere and it will be consistent across the country… We want the policing done that way, and we want the screening done that way, we want security measures at all the airports to be standardized.”


Threats Grow, Police Shrink 

Overall, the number of officers representing the combination of police forces that serve Pearson has declined from 290 police in 1995 (when the RCMP handled nearly all policing at airports) to 162 officers (59 RCMP, 93 Peel Regional, and 10 from other forces).  That decline is noteworthy given that terrorism was not perceived to be the problem it is now in 1995, and various organized crime groups had not begun to cooperate more in circumventing airport security. Inspector Landry also pointedly noted that over the period of decline in police presence, passenger volume has increased by more than 100 per cent, and it is projected to increase another 100 per cent over the next decade.  

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Garry Loeppky, December 2, 2002, observed that improved technical efficiencies and the advent of multi-functional teams might have had led to a reduction in need for as many officers. Pressed as to whether there are sufficient police officers at Pearson, his response was that there are sufficient officers for flight safety and security, but the airport could use more staff for other duties. At the end of the Deputy Commissioner’s testimony Committee members concluded his testimony was unclear as to whether he meant more help was needed to deal with organized crime, which Inspector Sam Landry said on June 24, 2002, is a major problem at Pearson:  

“Files that our members are working on and statistics show that there is significant organized criminal activity at Canada’s largest inland border point . . . any infiltration of our border at Toronto airport by the criminal element also has the potential of being exploited by those associated with extremism or terrorism.”


One Force for Airport Security? 

The Committee listened to conflicting opinions as to whether airport policing should be delivered by one national body, such as the RCMP, or by local/regional forces, augmented by the RCMP.  

There is a strong argument for a national security police force for airports, with standardized security training. One force, focused on terrorism as well as organized crime, would lead to better coordination and end jurisdiction disputes. If the RCMP were designated as the police force responsible for security at Canada’s airports, Canadians would be assured that airlines and airport authorities are not skimping on police protection to better serve their bottom lines.  

While the Air Canada Pilots Association argued for national standards for policing at airports, it also opted for continued use of local police, with good knowledge of the local crime scene. Indeed, local police could still perform valuable service at airports. But it is our conclusion that, when it comes to security, the RCMP should be in charge.  

The Committee fears that, without one national force, national standards and national training, some airports are likely to get short-changed on security, and national coordination against terrorism is likely to be undermined.  

It is worth noting that – in response to recommendations from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee – Transport Canada says it is working on the development of enhanced training standards and procedures for airport police, consulting with a variety of stakeholders regarding policing required for airport security and reviewing policing needs at airports generally.  

The Committee recognizes that many types of policing are necessary at a large international airport: supervision of the parking area, prevention of crime in the public areas of the airport, patrolling check-in points, interdicting drugs, supporting Customs and Immigration personnel, to name a few.  

But a confusing matrix of jurisdictions, priorities and egos may not be in the interests of improving security at Canada’s airports. The federal government needs to bring clarity to the issue of security policing. At a minimum it must create a common standard of policing at major airports across the country.  

The Committee believes that all policing, relating to the security of passengers, cargo and aircraft should be put under the jurisdiction of the RCMP, at all airports, with the capacity to contract out some services.  


Other testimony the Committee heard with regard to policing at Canada’s airports:  

Inspector Sam Landry, Officer in Charge of the Toronto Airport Detachment, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, June 24: “Criminal organizations have penetrated many legitimate businesses throughout Canada to further their criminal enterprises. This trend is no different at Toronto’s Pearson airport. The ability to move contraband undetected through the airport is essential to the success of their criminal activities . . . The primary concern to all of us is the criminal activity we have identified at Toronto airport that is linked to criminal organizations such as traditional organized crime, Eastern European-based organized crime, Asian-based organized crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs. We have also uncovered cells of individuals involved in illegal activity who are working with their counterparts in other countries.” 

William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, Nov. 27, 2002:   “…there is a need to extend police presence beyond current arrangements. Canada’s major international airports already have police on site. There are other Canadian airports where the requirement for police presence is being considered. Transport Canada is working with CATSA and the Canadian Airports Council to move forward on this issue…” 

Witness 1, a former intelligence supervisor with a police force, June 24, 2002: “There is an element of empire building going on around Pearson. There is a joint investigative unit at the airport. The Toronto Police, Peel Regional Police, so forth are there. It is just a thing in law enforcement that should not occur, that there should be a sharing of intelligence information involving the various intelligence agencies.”



Iain Fernie, Regional Security Operations Manager, Air Canada, June 24, 2002: “We assess every police request. I would say that, in most cases, we fully cooperate with the authorities.”


Sen. Banks:  “Does that include putting into place an undercover person posing as an Air Canada employee. Has that happened?”


Mr. Fernie: “It has happened in the past, yes, sir.”


Sen. Kenny: “We have received sworn testimony to the effect that requests made by police services to the human resources department at Air Canada have been turned down.”


(LATER)  “In your experience have those requests been turned down, sir?”


Mr. Fernie: “Some have, yes, sir.”


Sen. Forrestall: “Why?”





Mr. Fernie: “That decision was based on our assessment of the situation. Depending on the situation, we either cooperate or we do not. In most cases, if not all cases, we fully cooperate with the police. In some cases, the police do not have a knowledge of the airport environment. We are there to educate them with respect of the airport environment. In some cases, after we subjected them to our assessment, they decided not to go that route.”


Sen. Kenny: “They decided, or were turned down by Air Canada?”


Mr. Fernie:  “Either way. They decided, or we turned it down.”



A little more than a week later Robert Milton, CEO of Air Canada, was quoted in the National Post (August 2, 2002) as saying that allegations that Air Canada has refused to take part in the police infiltration of its cargo workers to root out a group of organized criminals was “sheer and utter nonsense.”




To deal with the problems outlined in Section VII, The Committee recommends: 

VII.1 All airport policing directly related to air travel security be removed from the airport authorities and assigned exclusively to the RCMP under contract to CATSA.          

VII.2 Local police forces and security guards contracted by airport authorities be responsible for criminal offences that are not related to air travel security.

VIII.  Improving the Governance of Canada’s Airways 

The Committee is concerned that authority over air travel is wide and vague. Jurisdictions and mandates among various government agencies, police forces and airport authorities present a more tangled web than what is needed to focus on creating not just an efficient and prosperous industry, but also a safe industry. Those responsible for safety within the industry should have a distinct mandate, clear authority, and the will to create and implement successful policy.  

A maze-like matrix of departments, agencies and corporations hold responsibilities for security at Canadian airports, and there is a fuzzy Alphonse-and-Gaston relationship between the public and private sector as to who will be responsible if security all goes haywire.


Take the example of who is responsible for the security of mail.


  • The airlines are said to be responsible for the cargo they decide to carry – including mail. 

  • But they are not required to screen mail, because Transport Canada has told them that they can instead get written assurances from Canada Post for each mail delivery, assuring them that Transport Canada protocols have been followed by Canada Post for assuring that the mail is safe.

  • Except that Transport Canada will not tell anybody what those protocols are, in the name of national security.  
  • And while they apparently introduced some new protocols last year, one Transport Canada witness told us last summer that they had not yet had a chance to audit Canada Post to ensure that the protocols are being followed.  
  • And, in truth, all this is academic, because the Committee was told that Canada Post does not really scrutinize the mail, other than to have its “experienced” employees, who presumably do not have x-ray vision, glance at it on the way by.  
  • And, even though Canadian airports are expected within the next three years to have equipment in place to inspect passenger baggage for explosive devices, a Canada Post executive assured us that there is no equipment capable of screening the high volume of mail that flows through Canada Post for contents that might endanger an aircraft.

If it is not possible to screen all the mail at Canada Post, the equipment is surely available to screen for the less than 15% of mail that goes out on passenger flights. But there are no plans in the works to do this.

The Shell Game 

Who is responsible for ensuring that mailed items don’t blow up passenger airliners within Canada’s jurisdiction? Is the answer under the Air Canada shell? The Canada Post shell? The Transport Canada shell? Or the new CATSA shell? Or, as appears to be the case at the moment, both all and none of the above.  

On Nov. 4, 2002, Capt. Matt Sheehy, Chairman of the Security Committee for the Air Canada Pilots Association, blamed Transport Canada’s decision to devolve responsibility for running airports from itself in 1996, turning most of the reins over to the private sector while maintaining the right to issue guidelines and directives and to audit to ensure that they were being met:  

“…The devolution of authority that took place in 1996 was primarily driven by an economic initiative . . . a lot of the day-to-day operations of the airports were handed down to the local airport authorities . . . it functioned to a certain degree.  It certainly supplied the economic part of it. 

However, since 9/11,the whole landscape of the world has changed, and the aviation security certainly has changed dramatically. We are going to make a suggestion to the Senate committee . . . we are going to ask you to turn the Titanic around because we sincerely believe that the model that we are trying to work with right now is dysfunctional. It might have been able to get through the day before 9/11, but as it stands today, it is not working . . . the Titanic is a pretty big ship, and it has a lot of momentum right now and it may be rudderless. Somebody is going to have to volunteer to get down there and put a rudder back on.” 

The corporation owner we interviewed on June 24, in camera (who has an extensive background as an aircraft charter operator and a pilot, and is on the boards of several aircraft companies) is a bit more cynical:  

“There is a huge amount of money for everyone if the public is placated and huge losses if people believe that anything bad might happen... People get on the charters and go off . . . for holidays. Business continues to be done. Freight forwarders continue to do their work. Canada Post gets their stuff in the airplanes. Everyone makes money selling fuel and it is all predicated on an illusion. In one sense, we know it is not safe; but the part that is not illusory is that everybody is making money; we are all making money. If we scare the hell out of everyone, we will not make money...”


The Role of CATSA 

In response to the events of September 11, the federal government established the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) on April 1, 2002 as a non-profit Crown Corporation reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Transport, with a mandate to deliver screening services at 89 designated airports. CATSA was also given responsibility for acquisition, deployment and maintenance of explosive detection equipment at airports, to inspect baggage, and to manage the Aircraft Protection Officers program.


On November 5th, after repeated criticism before our Committee concerning the poor quality of inspections of anybody at airports other than passengers and flight crew, the government assigned two new responsibilities to CATSA. They are:


  • the implementation of an enhanced restricted area pass system for Canadian airports  

  • random screening (searching) of non-passengers entering restricted areas.


CATSA is mandated as the delivery agency for these security services, with Transport Canada monitoring and regulating. Witnesses told the Committee that there is still confusion regarding the roles of the various entities involved in aviation security – especially when trying to decipher the lines of authority between CATSA and Transport Canada.


Said Don Johnson, President, Air Canada Pilots Association, Nov. 4, 2002: “…The component parts of aviation security are many and far-flung and require a central focal point to integrate associated measures effectively.


The formation of the Canada Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) falls far short of this vital requirement. This agency is incapable of addressing many airborne security issues as it is primarily mandated to oversee ground screening issues. In addition, it seeks no direct input from those being protected or those legally mandated to assure airborne security, the public and the pilots respectively.


…We are certainly not getting the bang for our buck, for our 12 bucks.”


(LATER) …I think [CATSA] probably has the mandate [to give centralized leadership to national air security], but they are not taking that broad a brush stroke at it . . . They have taken a very narrow view of what their mandate is.” 

Despite hours of testimony from representatives of Transport Canada and CATSA as to the division of responsibilities between the two bodies, it remains unclear to the Committee which of the two is meant to take the lead when it comes to airport security, although, in the end, most of the testimony suggests that CATSA is only meant to play a supporting role – a disappointment to many people in the industry who would like to see one national agency take charge of airport security.  

Transport Canada claims it has a handle on potential wayward behaviour of private operators that have been given so much more independence under devolution – air carriers, airport authorities, freight forwarders, sky services, caterers, and the rest:

Paul Kavanagh, Ontario Regional Director, Security and Planning, Transport Canada, June 24, 2002: “We can levy administrative and monetary penalties. We are also authorized to suspend, issue, revoke or deny the renewal of documents of entitlement or certification, primarily on the screening point.” 

Nevertheless, Transport Canada audits of these operations can be few and far between, and primarily based on the honesty these operators employ in keeping the records that the federal department requires. Suspensions and revocations appear to be more of a theoretical threat than a real one. What Transport Canada appears to be counting on was referred to in passing by  

William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, on Dec. 2, 2002: “Additional levers at our disposal [beyond Transport Canada’s regulatory regime and potential for enforcement] are: first, good security is good for business; and second, no airport wants Transport Canada or anyone else to suggest that they are not being responsible.” 

The Committee believes that good security is good business. The Committee also believes that it will turn out to be bad business to provide the illusion of good security at the front door, while scrimping on security at the back door. It wouldn’t take many more disasters to cripple the air travel industry. All business involves risk, but the risks currently being taken in Canada’s air travel industry are unacceptable.  

Airlines in Canada have been relieved of the cost of clearing passengers through security. This responsibility has been taken over by CATSA. Passengers are paying directly for their own security clearance through the $12 air travellers security charge. So far, Canadian airlines have mainly complained about how this $12 surcharge is dampening demand.  

The airlines remain silent about the money they are saving at security gates – money that could be put into lower fares to encourage demand, or into enhanced security in other areas to restore passenger confidence. The Committee believes that enhanced security should be a priority for all concerned, including the airlines. Good ethics are often good business.


The Relationship Between CATSA and Transport Canada 

At times CATSA appeared to be little more than a delivery agency for Transport Canada. At other times its CEO, Jacques Duchesneau, seemed to see himself as the point man on airport security, as stated on November 25, 2002: “My job is to ensure that when passengers get on board they are safe. That job is a big task.”  

In the following exchange, Transport Canada would appear to believe it has the intelligence resources to ascertain what kind of policing should be done at Canadian airports, while CATSA does not.  But CATSA seems to believe it has the ability to determine what training screeners need in the wake of September 11:  


Sen. Wiebe, Nov. 25, 2002: “The thing that bothers me is that policy by Transport Canada says that yes, according to risk assessment there should be a certain level of policing at airports . . . Why, then, should you have to go back to the minister and ask for funding [for policing] that goes to airport B? Why do you not have the authority to make that part of your budget?”


Mr. Baker: “First, the intelligence issue regarding all this information rests with Transport Canada.  The regulator is Transport Canada. They set the standard…”


Sen. Wiebe: “Do you not do the risk assessment?”


Mr. Duchesneau: “…We do not do any intelligence investigation . . . We are not equipped and it is not in our mandate to do that.”


Sen. Wiebe: “When it comes to determining what level of training screeners need, is that decision made by Transport Canada or by you people?”


Mr. Duchesneau:  “We make that decision.”


Sen. Wiebe: “What’s the difference?”


Mr. Duchesneau: “It is totally different. We have the means to do training. We know exactly what our standing and operating procedures are, so we train people accordingly. However, when it is time to make a threat assessment, we need intelligence to do that. It is not in our mandate to do intelligence.”


Moments later, Sen. Cordy asked Mr. Duchesneau, “What do you expect the challenges to be for CATSA in the years to come?” His response was quick:  “Always being one step ahead of people who have bad intentions.”  

With respect, the Committee believes that CATSA, as an arm’s length security agency, will have a hard time staying one step ahead of people with bad intentions if it does not have an intelligence component. And if it does not have an intelligence component, why is it training airport personnel? Surely security training is based on intelligence.  

During the appearance of CATSA witnesses the Committee was not able to clarify how the agency is involved in setting the standards and auditing the new restricted area pass system for the screening of non-passengers at airports. Will CATSA design the new pass system? Or will committees at Transport Canada?  

Turf Wars over Security 

There also appears to be a split in authority at Transport Canada on the security file. William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, acknowledged that two branches – security and civil aviation – both have some measure of jurisdiction for training flight and cabin crews, an area in which the Committee heard vocal complaints about the fact that no new security training is supposed to come on stream until the summer of 2003 – nearly two years after September 11, 2001. Mr. Elliott denied that there is any “turf war” between the two directorates, but Richard Balnis, Senior Research Officer at CUPE, begged to differ in testimony on Nov. 18 2002. He said following the introduction of armed APOs in passenger cabins, flight crews anxiously petitioned Transport Canada for training on how to deal with this new situation.  

“ . . . we literally had one [Transport Canada] director general for security and the other [Transport Canada] director general for civil aviation within about two hours on the phone saying ‘He is not supposed to be doing it. I am supposed to be doing it,’ and vice versa, and at the end of the day, we said ‘Come on, guys.  We need the procedures.”


More than a year later, the procedures have still not arrived.

Confusion regarding direction over airport security goes beyond any divisions at Transport Canada, and beyond any division of responsibility between Transport Canada and CATSA. It exists at the airports themselves. As noted earlier, Inspector Sam Landry, head of the RCMP contingent at Pearson International Airport, sent the Committee a list of 56 different entities that have some security responsibilities at the airport. [Appendix V].


Responsibilities among airlines, airport authorities, various police forces, Canada Post, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and many others are not only unclear to outsiders, but are sometimes unclear to the players themselves. It is not surprising that, on several occasions, the Committee was told that responsibility for a particular dimension of security belonged to another agency, only to have this denied by that agency in later testimony. The Committee never did find out who is in charge of an aircraft when an armed APO is on board. We presume that the pilot is. But nobody told us for sure.


On Nov. 4, 2002, Chuck Wilmink, a consultant and formerly Corporate Security Manager for Canadian Airlines, gave the Committee a good example of how divided responsibility could lead to a serious security breach. There are two areas of security at the airport. Air carriers and now the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) are responsible for the passenger screening area, while the airport authority is responsible for airport site security. One night when Wilmink was a manager at Vancouver Airport he accidentally set off an alarm at one of the passenger screening doors in the international terminal.  He waited for half an hour for security to show up, but when they did not, continued with his audit.  Three hours later, that alarm was still sounding.


The next day he raised the issue with airport security.  They said it was not their responsibility to answer that alarm because the airlines are in charge of the passenger gates.  But the airlines share the gates that they use for ninety minutes at a time.  Otherwise there is no one at the gate.  On the night in question there had not been any airline staff at the gate and hence no one to report the alarm or to respond to it.  Thus, says Mr. Wilmink, “that conflict, ‘it is your responsibility, no, it is yours’, leads to big holes, big gaps.  If you put them together in one group, it would be a lot better.”


While divisions of responsibility are inevitable, the Committee believes that there should be one central agency with overall responsibility for all aviation security issues. There are a lot of links in a security fence. Somebody has to ensure that they are strong enough, and coordinated enough, to protect the territory in an emergency.


The answers the Committee received to the following questions -- when answers were forthcoming -- were often fuzzy.

  • Who is in charge of an aircraft during a terrorist incident -- the Captain or the APO(s)? 

  •  If the aircraft is still on the ground who would be in charge during a hostage taking incident – the captain, the APOs, the RCMP or the police of local jurisdiction?

  • When a passenger checks in, who has jurisdiction re: determining whether or not the passenger could be a problem -- the ticket agent who works for an airline or the police responsible for airport security?  

  • Who has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that cargo (including parcels and mail) is properly searched before it enters an aircraft -- the airline , Canada Post, the freight forwarder, Transport Canada, or CATSA?  

  • Who is responsible for airport perimeter security -- the airport authority, the local police force, or Transport Canada?  

  • In an airport, who has ultimate responsibility for security -- the airport authority and its contract police and security guards, the local Transport Canada officials, or CATSA?  

Canada needs a single entity with overall managerial responsibility for aviation security that can implement a national system to be consistently applied and administered. It does not have one. The Committee will continue to monitor the issue of defining lines of clear authority in the interests of more effective aviation security.  


Other testimony the Committee heard on the issue of governance:  

Captain Matt Sheehy, Chairman, Security Committee, Air Canada Pilots Association, Nov. 4, 2002: “…(CATSA is) not giving any direction to the air marshal program, so far as we know. All they are doing is taking care of the cost structure and the accounting aspects of paying for it . . . 

…Transport Canada has now created another bureaucracy to separate them from the issues at hand. 

… What you have now is eight or nine different entities across the country all basically controlling national security. To me that is wrong. 

I believe that aviation security is a national security issue, and it should not be in the hands of the local airport authorities. They have a role to play, certainly, but it boggles my mind to think that they’ll be dictating national security issues for all Canadians.” 


To deal with the problems outlined in Section VIII, 

VIII.1 Transport Canada should continue to be responsible for the development of policy and standards for aircraft and airport security and should be responsible for verification that security policies are being implemented to its standards by CATSA, airport authorities, airlines, and police or other security personnel;     

VIII.2 CATSA should be responsible for the design and delivery of all mechanisms and training to assure air travel security, including the management and security screening of the restricted areas of the airport and the security screening of all persons and things boarding aircraft in Canada.    

VIII.3 National standards be effectively and consistently implemented. CATSA should develop an intelligence capability in order to effectively carry out its responsibilities.  

VIII.4 CATSA should be given the authority to contract the RCMP to supervise all policing at airports as it relates to passenger, cargo, aircraft and airside security.  

VIII.5 The Auditor General of Canada should conduct audits – including value for money audits – of security expenditures both by the federal government and airport authorities (the Minister of Transport should make this possible through new legislation.)

IX.  Assuring Financial Accountability 

Both the Committee and Auditor General Sheila Fraser are concerned that the financial regimes of both the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the airport authorities are preventing the public from knowing how much of the air travellers security charge is spent at each airport by CATSA and other departments and agencies, as well as how much each Airport authority is spending on security.  

There is a distressing lack of transparency between airport authorities and the travelling public. Questions arise as to what is being done with money raised through security taxes and airport improvement taxes, and how funds raised may or may not be being diverted into other areas – including business ventures such as offshore subsidiaries – that may have nothing to do with serving the Canadian public.  

The Committee believes that sufficient information should be made public to show consumers what value they are getting for the $12 air travellers security charge.  

The Committee has been frustrated in attempting to determine how much is being spent on aviation security, by whom and for what.  There are two broad areas of concern here. First, how much of the incremental expenditures are covered by the $12 surcharge? Is $12 not enough, just right, or excessive? Second, how are local airport authorities allotted their share of security money, and how do we know where it is spent?  

William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Transport Canada, on Dec. 2, 2002, did tell the Committee: “…The government has stated that its intention is to match revenues and expenditures – match revenues from the air travellers’ security charge with expenditures relating to [incremental security]… The government has also undertaken to do an annual review of those revenues and expenditures. The first such review is currently underway. The Auditor General has been asked to examine the revenues and the expenditures to provide assurances to Canadians that in fact there will be a balance between them.” 

Both Mr. Duchesneau, the CEO of CATSA, and Transport Minister Collenette pointed out that CATSA is funded through the Consolidated Revenue Fund  (CRF) – the $12 air travellers security charge is not designated, as such, for security improvements – so neither felt they could match revenues against expenditures. Both said they were simply “spenders,” rather than “collector/spenders.”  

Minister Collenette did say that the Auditor General would be able to assess whether  $12 per departure is too much given expenditures on improved security, and whether new funds for security are being appropriately spent.  

However, when Auditor General Sheila Fraser testified before the Committee on Nov. 18, 2002, she was considerably less optimistic that such a definitive accounting would ever be possible. She explained that the fee is collected by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency from the air carriers, and deposited in the Consolidated Revenue Fund with most, but not all, expenditures made by CATSA.   

In order to get a clear picture regarding the balances between funds collected and disbursed, Ms. Fraser said that she would require a statement from the Department of Finance clearly showing the revenues collected and disbursed from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, as well as a statement by CATSA delineating its expenditures.  

Ms. Fraser said that the Department of Finance was attempting to prepare such a statement, and had asked the Auditor General’s Department to audit it, which it intends to do over the next few months.  

How much will this audit really show? The Auditor General is in negotiations with CATSA as to the level of detail the agency should provide on its financial statements. She has some concern that the specific data offered with regard to expenses will not be sufficient to ensure a sound value-for-money audit. CATSA, in any event, will only be able to account for the money it spent, not the total disposition of the $12 fee.  

The federal government must demonstrate to Canadians that the money that it is collecting from Canadians for incremental air passenger security is in fact being wisely used on improved air passenger security.  

Will the auditors be able to determine what is incremental, versus what was being spent before that date?   The Committee received no assurances that any breakdown will be given of how much has been collected by each airport in taxes, and how much is being spent on incremental security at each airport, by category. The Auditor General told us she was not satisfied that CATSA has been organizing its books so it will be able to provide this kind of information.  

She was also concerned that the time lag between the point that the funds were collected, to the point when they were spent, may make it impossible to arrive at a conclusive assessment of whether the $12 fee was totally and appropriately spent.  

What are Local Airport Authorities Spending on Security? 

Our second concern is that the Auditor General has no right to audit local airport authorities on how much they are spending on security. Ms. Fraser told us these authorities are private corporations, beyond her reach. She expressed concern about the way airport authorities collected and spent their funds (quite apart from security issues), on their financial viability, on the debt load some were carrying, and on their offshore subsidiaries. However she pointed out that, for those airport authorities that rent their premises from Transport Canada, as a condition of the lease agreements Transport Canada has the right to audit the airport authorities. She did not, she said, feel that Transport Canada was exercising this right as diligently as they should, and pointed out that in any event the lease agreements as they currently stood provided for no penalties should any such audit show serious security deficiencies.  

Auditor General Sheila Fraser, Nov. 18, 2002: “…Transport Canada should be actively managing those leases. One of the issues that we mentioned at the time was that they had not fully transformed from an operating department into one that was managing the leases adequately.  They needed to do more work on insuring that the lease conditions were being respected and in finding out what was happening in things like subsidiaries and contracting, but we have not yet gone back to see what improvements have been made since then.” 

Shahid Minto, Assistant Auditor General (Citizenship and Immigration), Nov. 18, 2002: “When we did our audit in 2000, we pointed out to Transport Canada that, although they are no longer running the airports, they are the landlord with a lease, with which comes certain obligations. They also have obligations for the security and viability of the airport system. Under that, there are some things they should know. 

The problem was at that time, The Department of Transport had not thought of most of these issues. They were so busy divesting themselves of the airports that they had not prepared themselves for the next phase. 

In response to the Public Accounts Committee, they have said that they are trying to do more active monitoring. I have no idea what that means. When we go back to do our follow-up we will find out.” 

For its part, Transport Canada claimed that audits of airport authorities were regularly done. However, to the best of the Committee’s knowledge, such audits related only to the receipt of rent owed to Transport Canada at the half dozen airports where facilities are rented, as well as the appropriate expenditure of policing funds given to the authorities by CATSA on Transport Canada’s instruction.  

In short, there is no existing method of determining whether the airport authorities are spending appropriate amounts on security. Nor can we determine whether these amounts increased, or decreased, subsequent to September 11, 2001. However the dramatic reduction in the number of police officers on site at Pearson International over recent years sends a worrying signal in this regard.  

The Committee heard testimony that there have been occasions at Pearson Airport when entire plane loads of passengers arriving from outside Canada have been directed through open doors into the general population without the benefit of a Customs or Immigration inspection. Customs officers only became aware of the security lapse when the passengers tried to force their way back into the Customs hall to reclaim their baggage. Somebody - the airlines, the airport authority, Transport Canada, customs and immigration officials, police - should be making sure these kinds of things don’t happen, which may require spending a little money.

The refusal of Louis A. Turpen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), to appear before the Committee to discuss these kinds of issues did not send an encouraging signal.  

The Committee believes that the Canadian taxpayer has a right to know how its taxes are being spent – all the more so when a specific tax for a specific purpose is assessed. In this regard we regret the Government’s decision to assign the proceeds of the $12 air travellers security charge to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, where its entry into the vast morass of government funding makes it more difficult to track.  

It is our belief that even where security funds are not taxpayers’ dollars – as in the case of the “improvement fees” charged by the airport authorities – the travelling Canadian public has a right to know whether money collected is being spent for the purposes being claimed.  

The Committee expects – and Canadians will demand – that the federal government will address these issues in the coming months.

To deal with the issues raised in Section IX,

IX.1 The Government of Canada detail how much money is being collected from the $12 air travellers security charge – better known as the departure tax – and from which airports;  

IX.2. The Government of Canada account for how much of the $12 air travellers security charge, is being spent by CATSA, and how much is being spent by other departments and agencies and how much is being spent at each airport and for what;

IX.3 That CATSA fully report the amounts that it is spending on its internal administration and report annually how much it has spent at each airport for:  passenger screening, mail and cargo screening, airside searching of non-passengers, policing; and

IX.4    That the Government of Canada introduce legislation providing the Auditor General of Canada with the power to audit each airport authority for accuracy, and value received for all security revenues and expenditures made by the authority, which would complement ongoing auditing and supervision by Transport Canada of security expenditures by airport authorities.

X.  The Need for a New Transparency 

The Committee expresses its sincere thanks to the many witnesses who provided testimony during our hearings. Many private individuals, unions, academics and government officials volunteered or gave willingly of their time and knowledge and, in so doing, showed a genuine concern for the safety of air travel in this country. The Committee is grateful to the more candid witnesses who came before it. If much of the forthright testimony we heard came from people who actually work at airports and on passenger aircraft – rather than those responsible for maintaining appearances and defending the system – it is also fair to say that some senior government and corporate officials were at least more frank than others about what needs to change. Much of the testimony we heard showed a genuine concern that air travellers in Canada be offered genuine security in the air, rather than the pretense of security.  

However, the Committee was often dismayed and disappointed at attempts by many senior officials from both government and the private sector, to suggest that it is not in the public interest to talk about security weaknesses that need to be addressed quickly, and are clearly not being addressed quickly. This manifested itself in refusal by some witnesses to answer questions put by the Committee, refusal of some organizations to deliver witnesses knowledgeable on security issues, and in some cases outright refusal of at least one organization, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority – and its contractee, Peel Regional Police – to appear at all.  


Responsible Government is Predicated On the Public’s Right to Know 

Parliamentarians understand balance. The Parliament of Canada has helped create what is possibly the most balanced society in the world – a place where freedom and knowledge go hand in hand with responsibility. The future of Canadian democracy depends on being open with the people unless there is some clear reason why openness would endanger our society. In this case, the senators sitting on this Committee, with broad collective experience in the law, in governance, and the needs of the Canadian people, determined that openness on these issues could only make Canadians more secure.  

There can be no acceptable rationale for refusing to participate in discussing public security before the Parliament of Canada – particularly when potentially fatal flaws in the public security system are being discussed in coffee shops every day by the tens of thousands of airport and airline workers who know all too well that they exist.  


Honest People Came Forward 

The Committee has the right of subpoena to both summon witnesses and to insist that they answer questions truthfully. We did not choose to subpoena. Instead we went looking for alternate witnesses who we thought would be caring and candid about discussing real problems and how to solve them.  

We certainly found those witnesses – particularly with respect to the failures at Pearson International Airport. No testimony was more damning concerning the illusion of security versus the reality of security than the testimony we heard on the gaps in security at Pearson.  

To those witnesses who clearly believed that authority cannot be honourably exercised unless the people over whom it is exercised are provided with the evidence to assess whether it is being wisely exercised, the Committee extends its gratitude and admiration.  

In the interests of the public of Canada – particularly air travellers in this country – we sincerely hope that those with the power to rid airports and aircraft of the security flaws that we have outlined in this report take our words seriously, and get on with the job at hand. The people should move quickly, before any of us are forced to raise our eyes to more tragedy falling from our skies.  

It would be laughable – if it were not so sad – that Air Canada officials refused to answer the simple question of what airport clerks do, when they are receiving parcels that will go on passenger planes, to assure that those parcels are not dangerous. They would not answer the question for a committee of Parliament – despite the fact that the laws of this country clearly show that they must answer such questions – when any courier who has ever delivered a parcel to an airport knows the answer to that question.  

We chose not to force this issue, partially because it would have delayed the Committee’s work, and we feel there is an urgency to prod all those responsible for security in the air passenger industry to get on with the job of improving security that is clearly inferior to what passengers need, and are paying for.  

It is rare – either in the world of bureaucracy or the world of private profit – that reforms are made in the public interest until the public knows the truth about how it is being treated. Those persons who refused to be candid with our Committee were not being protective of the public. They were being protective of themselves, and their own vested interests.  

In the interests of the public of Canada – particularly air travellers in this country – we hope that those with the power to rid airports and aircraft of the security flaws that we have outlined in this report take the report seriously, and get on with the job. Quickly, before more people are victimized.  

To deal with the issues raised in Section X,

X.1  The federal government should design and implement air travel security measures that provide transparency and full financial accountability to the Canadian public.  

X.2 Airport authorities and the airlines must recognize that security of air travel is the public’s business and be forthright in explaining the measures they are taking to protect against terrorist or criminal activity, on the ground, and in the air.

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