Civil Liberties Group Calls 'No-Fly' List 'Useless Piece of Security Theatre'

VANCOUVER (CP) -- The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has added its voice to those protesting secret government plans for a Canadian ''no-fly'' list which could bar Canadians suspected of posing a security risk from flying on airlines.

''The experience with the U.S has shown the system is invasive, harmful and potentially discriminatory, while doing absolutely nothing to demonstrably enhance security,'' association policy director Micheal Vonn said on Monday at a news conference.

She called the American no-fly list, which has caused the airport detention of a number of politicians, including Canadian Defence Minister Bill Graham and U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, as a ''useless piece of security theatre'' which has yet to lead to the apprehension of a terrorist.

Vonn said the secret list has tens of thousands of names on it, and possibly hundreds of thousands, but there is ''no meaningful way'' for people on the list to have their names removed or even find out why they are on it in the first place

The association is concerned Canada will create its own ''no-fly'' list to satisfy American demands that Canadian airlines provide passenger lists for all flights - domestic as well as international - that go through American airspace.

Federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre has estimated two-thirds of Canada's 278,000 annual domestic flights cross the border to save time and fuel.

Forcing airlines to fly new routes north of the border would substantially increase costs, that would be reflected in more expensive tickets.

Washington warned in April it intends to require foreign airlines passing over the U.S. to check passengers against the American ''no-fly'' list, but has not yet set a deadline for compliance by Canada.