TORONTO, June 16, 2007 - National human and civil rights organizations from across the country are calling on the federal government to immediately halt the implementation of the Canadian "no-fly list". The groups say that the program, dubbed "Passenger Protect", is ripe for abuse and represents an unprecedented assault on the rights of Canadian citizens and residents. The group is also calling on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to examine the plan and to hear public submissions.
The organizations which have joined together to call for the suspension of the program are: The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA); the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF); the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR); Canadian Labour Congress (CLC); the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF); Centre for Research Action in Race Relations (CRARR); the Coalition of Arab Canadian Professionals and Community Associations (CAPCA); the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC); International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), and the National Anti-Racism Council of Canada (NARCC).
"There are many objectionable parts of this program, not the least of which is the fact that travellers may not find out that they're barred from boarding a flight until they get to the airport and, even more seriously, the potential sharing of their private information with other countries," said Dr. Ayman Al-Yassini, Senior Executive Vice President of the CRRF, speaking on behalf of the group. "The stories about the experiences of travellers under the no-fly list program in the United States are not confidence-builders about this program for Canadians."
"While everyone is obviously keen on public safety, we have to remember that there is no evidence that this program would increase aviation safety at all," observed Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BCCLA. "We are being asked to pay an astounding price in terms of our civil liberties for no quantifiable safety benefit whatsoever. What is worse, there has been no democratic accountability in the process."
"Clearly, if this program goes ahead as planned, there is a serious danger of making the situation of racial and religious profiling worse," said Roch Tassé of the ICLMG. "The federal government has a responsibility to ensure the protection of human rights while protecting its citizens and residents, not at the cost of one over the other."
"This program places the rights to privacy and freedom of movement of Canadian residents in the hands of a very few," added Karl Flecker, National Director of the Anti-Racism and Human Rights department of the Canadian Labour Congress. "That makes it critical that Parliament takes a very close look at its ramifications."