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"Senator urges tighter controls after Canadian airport screening lapse"


 
Friday, December 22, 2006

Senator urges tighter controls after airport screening lapse   
By Katie Rook
Canada - The National Post


TORONTO - Senator Colin Kenny is calling for tighter security at the
country's busiest airport as Transport Canada says an investigation into an
alleged lapse in baggage and passenger screening in October is under way.

Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon Thursday stated an investigation had
been launched following airport screeners' allegations that supervisors had
taken over procedures during a four-day protest.

Kenny, chairman of the standing Senate committee on national security and
defence, said weaknesses in Pearson's mail and freight inspection procedures
are more significant than lapses which might result from alleged labour
disputes.

''In the broader scheme of things this is small potatoes. The serious
security concerns at Pearson are the fact that workers going air side,'' he
said. ''By that I am talking about groomers, people who fuel the planes,
baggage handlers, mechanics and caterers are not searched every time they go
to work and every time they leave work.

''We don't understand why passengers are searched if they're not going to
search the people that are working around the planes.''

CBC reported Thursday a work-to-rule action Oct. 10-13 meant 250,000
passengers boarded aircraft without being searched properly. It quoted an
internal transport ministry report as saying the lapse had ''severely
compromised the traveling public.''

It said the ''security screening process was circumvented ... in some cases
it was abandoned altogether.''

Transport Canada denied Thursday any report had been issued and could not
confirm receipt of a letter from the screeners' union, a spokesman said.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority spokeswoman Irene Marcheterre
refused Thursday to comment on the matter, but on Wednesday told the
National Post that screening officers had slowed down passenger and baggage
screening due to labour concerns with employer GARDA.

At the time, Marcheterre could not confirm whether international and
domestic flights had been effected.

Passengers would have experienced slowdowns, but security was not
compromised, she said.

Kenny said he believes the workers were protesting a compensation issue and
had expressed concern supervisors who stepped in to clear lineups did not
follow proper procedures.

Mandatory security cameras had not been installed at Pearson, leaving the
workers without any recorded evidence to support the allegations against the
supervisors, he said.

''You've got the post office saying the airline is searching (the mail), you
got the airline saying the post office is searching and then then the
regulator is saying nobody is searching. You've got a disconnect, a huge
disconnect.''

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