Government to review 'no-fly list' after children flagged: Goodale

Canada’s public safety minister said the government is exploring possible changes to air travel security rules after an Ontario couple’s six-year-old son was caught on a “no-fly” list because of his name.

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Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement Thursday that ministry officials have contacted air carriers to remind them that “additional security screening validation is not required for individuals under the age of 18.”

The statement comes days after Syed Adam Ahmed’s parents expressed their frustrations over the trouble they have at the airport when travelling with their six-year-old son.

Adam’s name is on a list of “high-profile” travellers deemed potential security risks. According to his parents, their son’s name has raised red flags at the airport since he was born.

When Adam and his father, Sulemaan Ahmed, tried to check in for a flight to Boston on Dec. 31, Adam needed special clearance and a security check before being allowed to board the plane, the family said.

Sulemaan and his wife, Khadija Cajee, took to social media to express their frustrations over the repeated ordeal at airports.

The media coverage prompted other families with young children to come forward with similar stories.

Goodale tweeted that that he would look into the matter, and on Thursday, the public safety minister said that his department is also “exploring” possible amendments to the regulations that would “help differentiate individuals who have similar or the same names as individuals listed under the Passenger Protect Program.”

The program, known unofficially as the no-fly list, will also be scrutinized during public consultations on Canada’s security framework, Goodale said.

Adam’s parents also issued a statement Thursday, saying that they had a “productive meeting” with their local federal MP, Health Minister Jane Philpott, where they shared their concerns over the “implications of the no-fly list.”

“We were encouraged that she has communicated with Minister Goodale about this in the last week and that steps will be taken to address our concerns,” they said. “It has been frustrating to see the line between national security and personal liberties blurred over time and to see this issue impact so many families.”

Ahmed and Cajee also said that they are waiting to meet directly with Goodale.

Goodale said that the government “understands” the frustration of “law-abiding” travellers whose plans are interrupted as a result of false positives arising in the security screening.

“We have heard the concerns of those who have gone through additional security screening that this situation can cause confusion and feelings of stigmatization,” the minister said.


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