Canada's government urges U.S. to consider exemption for all of Canadian overflights

    OTTAWA, Nov. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced that the
Government of Canada has submitted its official comments on the United States
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by the Department of Homeland Security on
the Secure Flight Program, urging the U.S. to exempt all Canadian overflights.
    "The Government of Canada is concerned about the implications of the U.S.
proposed Secure Flight Program; and we are working hard to find a solution,"
said Minister Cannon. "Canada and the United States have long worked closely
together to promote aviation security, and this cooperation has greatly
intensified since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We want to continue
this spirit of cooperation, which includes an assessment of threat and risk,
recognizes existing security initiatives and values privacy and individual
rights. For these reasons, it is imperative that we provide the U.S. with our
comments and suggestions on this proposed regulation."
    The official comments represent the Government of Canada's position and
recommendations on the proposed U.S. Secure Flight Program. They include an
assertion that, in light of existing strong security protocols and security
initiatives and ongoing and growing cooperative capacity to address security
challenges, all flights between Canada and third countries that overfly the
U.S. should be exempt from the U.S. Secure Flight program. So far, all
domestic Canadian flights, representing over 75 per cent of overflights, will
be exempt under the proposed U.S. Secure Flight Program.
    "We acknowledge the right of a country under the international law of the
1944 Chicago Convention to regulate access to its airspace, including
overflights that do not land in its territory," continued Minister Cannon.
"However, in light of our complementary security systems and the security
cooperation of Canada and the United States, and the relative risk, we believe
that there are excellent security grounds for the proposed Secure Flight
Program to exempt all flights to, from and within Canada that overfly the
United States."
    The official comments also express concern about the impact that the
proposed program would have on the privacy of Canadians. In particular, the
comments underscore that consent is central to Canadian privacy standards.



    The official comments of the Government of Canada on the U.S.
Transportation Security Administration's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
regarding the Secure Flight Program were delivered on November 21, 2007.

    The official comments state the following points:

    -   Canada and the United States already cooperate on a number of
        initiatives that enhance the security of flights in North American
        airspace, including close cooperation between their transportation
        security authorities, joint efforts through the North American
        Defence Command (NORAD) for military response capability, and the
        In-Flight Security Officers programs. Canada and the United States
        have comparable security programs in a number of areas, including the
        physical and identity screening of passengers, security clearances
        for airport staff and enhanced control over access to restricted
        areas at airports;

    -   The risks represented by overflights can be mitigated and managed
        through effective security measures and appropriate cooperation
        between the two countries;

    -   In light of existing security initiatives and the ongoing cooperative
        capacity to respond to security situations, Canada is asking for an
        exemption of all overflights to and from Canada over the U.S.;

    -   The Government of Canada appreciates that all domestic Canadian
        flights that overfly the U.S. are exempted under the current NPRM,
        and requests that all flights between Canada and third countries that
        overfly the U.S. be exempt;

    -   The protection of the privacy of travelers is of critical concern.
        The concept of consent is central to Canadian privacy standards; and

    -   Canada is also concerned that the proposed Secure Flight program
        could use passenger information for vetting against watch lists of
        individuals, beyond those who pose a threat to aviation security.

                                                              November 2007

For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700;
Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Transport Canada is
online at Subscribe to news releases and speeches at keep up-to-date on the latest from Transport Canada.
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