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Ottawa Admits Travellers from Selected Nations Treated 'Differently'

Posted by on Jan 10th, 2010 and filed under Nation, Recent Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Transport Minister John Baird says Canada already treats certain countries differently when their citizens travel to Canada.

Baird was asked Wednesday whether Canada is going to fall in line with the U.S. in targeting travellers from 14 mostly Muslim countries as part of heightened airport security in the wake of a Dec. 25 foiled bombing of a Detroit-bound Northwest Airline flight.

"We do put already ... visa requirements on some citizens of some countries so we do treat people from different countries differently today," he said.

Canada requires visas of travellers from more than 145 countries and territories.

"In terms of Canada, we will get the specifics on what the request is from the United States and then come up with a Canadian response," Baird said.

Baird has announced the government has ordered 44 full-body scanners at a cost of $11 million to boost the screening of travellers to the United States and critics fear the next step is to mirror U.S.-style racial profiling.

NDP MP Don Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway) said he feared if Baird had already bowed to U.S. pressure to put body scanners in airports, he could also succumb to the pressure to profile based on the U.S. rules.

Liberal MP Joe Volpe (Eglinton-Lawrence) said opposition MPs don't even get a chance to question the manner in which the Conservative government is handling the latest security scare because Prime Minister Stephen Harper has suspended Parliament until March 3.

The United States has slapped tougher rules on travellers from Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.

Harper noted in an interview with CBC TV that it may be somewhat difficult to adopt carte blanche U.S. security policies, including profiling some passengers.

The American response is to demand "enhanced screening" for U.S.-bound international flights and though Ottawa says it's been planning for months to introduce full body scanners, there's little doubt Canada acted this week at the behest of the U.S. when it made the official announcement. Regina isn't on the initial list of airports getting the scanners, but could get one later this year.

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