the scenic route

Kyle alerted me to this a few days ago:
And in today's news, apparently Washington is demanding that Canada checks passengers against the U.S. no-fly list *for domestic flights within Canada*.

"Currently, any plane flying in or out of the United States must provide authorities with a passenger manifest and any person considered a security risk by the U.S. may be pulled from the plane.

But a new American proposal attempts to go one step further by demanding that any flight passing through U.S. airspace, even if it doesn't land, must first submit its passengers' names, citizenship, birthdays, and possibly their addresses and credit card details.

Many flights, for example Montreal to Halifax, or Toronto to Calgary, cross U.S. airspace to save time and fuel."
John Ibbitson, a Globe and Mail columnist takes it on.
The Earth being round, a flight from Toronto to Montreal often enters American airspace. A flight from Montreal to Halifax or from Halifax to Calgary almost always does. In fact, three-quarters of the roughly 3,000 domestic Canadian flights each week spend part of their time over American soil.

The Americans could soon put a stop to it. Unless the Canadian government can change their minds, most of our flights could suddenly become longer and more expensive. . . .

At the root of conflicts over no-fly lists, passports and the detention of foreign nationals lies a fundamental difference between how America and its allies view the war on terror. In Canada and Europe, locating and deterring extremists who might do harm is essentially a law-enforcement concern. You probably shape the issue that way in your own mind.

But most Americans see it differently. They believe terrorists, aided and abetted by weak or sympathetic governments, are out to attack the U.S. and/or its citizens. For the typical American, the war on terror is a war, or at least a question of national security.

For this reason, Americans think Canadians are lax, while Canadians think Americans are paranoid. Fortunately, enough goodwill remains on both sides to overcome most obstacles.

Here's hoping goodwill can settle this dispute as well. Otherwise, it'll be a long flight from Vancouver to Montreal. [Column here.]
I think Ibbitson hasn't spoken with enough Americans. Plenty of us agree that our government is both paranoid and obsessed with demonstrating their power. Many of us know the so-called war on terror is not actually a war, but an excuse for the government to do whatever the hell it wants. And most of us have no opinion on whether Canadians are lax.

As to goodwill, that's anybody's guess.


CaliGirl said...

i am one of those that agrees with you about the government is both paranoid and obsessed with demonstrating their power.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing ties right into the Arar case going on here.

Guy had a stopover on his way back to Montreal. Because it was a US stopover (rather than simply passing through airspace), records were checked. Arar was arrested because he had apparantly met or been acquainted with some people years back who later became terrorists (note he himself has never been proven a terrorist, nor involved in any terrorism). US demanded Canada incarcerate him on his return; we politely said fuck off, send him home to Montreal now. We wouldn't jail him (what evidence is there?) so the US sends him to a place that will: they send him to prison in Syria (his native country) where he faced and endured torture because they thought maybe he knew something - those acquaintances years back. Probably on record that he said sat next to the wrong guy on the bus ten years ago or something like that. Finally Canada gets him released after a year and a bit. Why it was so slow and what exactly happened are subject of an inquiry right now. Arar has a lawsuit pending against the US government - damn straight - pending the results of the inquiry.

So is the airspace issue tied to this? Bloody right it is. Same thing - the US in its paranoia seems to think it can tell Canada what to do with its people - the proof is in the Arar case. The airspace issue is no different - the US sees it as a way to capture any person who has ties to anyone suspicious in their past. And if in their space, at all, they will claim jurisdiction regardless of citizenship.

Paranoia + Arrogance = end of the free world as we know it, with the added bonus of all you can eat freedom fries.

In other words:
Paranoia + Arrogance = Freedom Fried

laura k said...


Anonymous said...

Arar links



Anonymous said...

I agree about the paranoia and obsession with power. I also see terrorism as a law enforcement issue, to a large extent, but people are ridiculed for saying that. Not that I care - the ridiculers are the ones who've been brainwashed.

Here's some more about Arrar:


laura k said...

Hey Crabby, thanks for the link. That's the original article through which many Americans first heard of this case. I've linked to it many times, so I'm glad to see it making the rounds!

I also think the risk of terrorism in the US is greatly exaggerated. It took years of planning - and probable US complicity - to pull off 9/11. How would it look if these tough guys "let" something happen now?

sleepybomb said...

i am never gonna fly again! thank the good lords that are making these laws possible . . .

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's how I first heard about Arrar. have you heard that the New Yorker is coming out in DVD? Every single page? I read about that on ae's blog. I can't wait!


laura k said...

Redsock told me about it the other day. What an amazing resource!

The first thing I thought of was, what are their writers and cartoonists getting? Electronic licensing is a big battleground. I'm going to look into it.