Currently, the Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities Committee, of which I serve on, is reviewing Air Transportation Safety and Security. On April 22, our committee interviewed two very interesting, informative witnesses; Mark Salter, Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, and by videoconference, Mr. Rafi Sela a consultant, from Kfar Vradim, Israel. Their testimony assisted our committee in understanding the challenges facing airport security.
Our government has placed an $11M order for the installation of 40 full body scanners at Canadian airports. These scanners will reveal any explosive device(s) a passenger may have on their person. Mr. Salter felt this was a positive move whereas Mr. Sela believed it was a waste of money.
Mr. Salter’s position was that the threat and level of airport security in Canada was very different from Israel. He supported the use of body scanners and the traditional scanning of passengers’ luggage to identify articles that posed a threat.
Mr. Sela rebuffed Mr. Salter’s views saying that passenger profiling and training security personnel in behavioural analysis was more effective in securing airports. He saw the passenger as the threat not the materials.
I advised Mr. Sela that Japan’s Narita International Airport had perimeter security around the airport stopping all traffic entering the airport compound. Entrance sniffer dogs and security personnel would engage the passengers before they entered the airport. Mr. Sela commented that this was also done in Israel. He went on to say that by doing this, passengers entering the airport would experience less security delays in the terminal building as they accessed their flight gate. Mr. Sela advised that at most major airports in Canada a terrorist could load up a van, drive up to the front door of the terminal and detonate an explosive. The damage would be extensive because our terminals are not constructed with explosive proof glass and other products and designs that would minimize the effects of a terrorist act of this nature. He also said in Israel if you want to take your water on the plane or liquid shampoo, or five bottles of your favourite wine, no one would stop you because you had already been identified as a low risk.
This study will be interesting. I might also add that airport security in Israel costs 40% less per passenger than in North America.
Mr. Salter was adamantly opposed to passenger profiling and behavioural analysis as he viewed this as disrespectful of one’s personal rights and therefore, not the Canadian way. In his opinion, Canadians would rather have security line ups and body scanners than giving up their personal information.
This begs the question: Should we allow airport security personnel to view our private information, or our private parts?
Colin Mayes, MP