View Full Version : Airport security, Canadian style

12-05-2004, 10:33 PM
Sunday, Dec 05, 2004

Airport security to be reviewed

Canada's 89 federal airports experienced a security surge this weekend after an investigation by CBC News found more than 1,000 uniforms and security badges from federal airport screeners had been lost or stolen during the first nine months of 2004.

Some of the lost items were discovered on Ebay, an online auction site.

As a result Transport Minister Jean Lapierre has ordered an investigation by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, as wells as an immediate check of the ID of all airport workers.

"Although a special security pass is required to have access to restricted areas in an airport, Transport Canada is issuing ... a notice to all concerned Canadian airport operators requesting they remind airport employees of the need to be vigilant both at airport entry points and on an ongoing basis in their workplace," said the minister in a news release.

Following Sept. 11, Ottawa sank billions of dollars into improving airport security. But many experts says it is no better now than it was before. The missing uniforms, they say, are just a symptom or a much larger problem.

"The real fear should be that security can now be breached at a major airport. That an airplane could be boarded, that baggage could be tampered with," said Conservative MP Peter MacKay.

Reports from Parliament and from industry have pointed to an inexperienced and underpaid screening workforce that lacks any ability to gather intelligence on problem passengers.

Also, since screeners are contracted from a jumble of private security firms, analysts say standards vary. "Obviously Canada is the place to attack the United States through," said air security analyst Peter St. John.

"So if there's going to be another attack, it would be an attack hijacking a plane in Canada, against a major city in the United States. It would be another way through if al-Qaeda wanted to attack again."

Canada is not alone in security failures. On Saturday, French commandos training bomb sniffing dogs in Paris lost a case of explosives.

At London's Heathrow Airport, a journalist posing as a cleaner, penetrated the security cordon. He had no ID, only a broom.

Still, security at Canada's airports are often viewed by Americans as lax. "Canada is very important to our homeland security so we have to be paying attention to what's going on north of the border," said Charles Pena of Washington's Cato Institute.

Maybe the French bomb sniffing dogs can help find the missing uniforms.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
12-05-2004, 10:41 PM
On Ebay no less. redface.gif