Senators say Transport Canada not
competent to oversee airport security
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:35 p.m. March 21, 2007]
OTTAWA — A
Senate committee released a report on air security Wednesday
recommending that Transport Canada be "relieved" of its
responsibilities for airport security.
The Senate national security and defence committee said those
responsibilities should be transferred to the public security
"Transport Canada should get out of the security field and
focus on areas in which it has competence," the report
The report argued that the department's mandate to facilitate the
speedy movement of Canadians is at odds with providing effective
"Putting Transport Canada in charge of security is comparable
to putting Industry Canada in charge of the environment," the
At a press conference in Ottawa, Liberal Senator Colin Kenny
went further and described bureaucrats at Transport Canada as not
competent enough to handle security.
Kenny said before the committee held hearings, they met with
Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon to outline their concerns
about security gaps the committee discovered in researching a
similar 2002 report.
"He was very polite," Kenny said. "He listened to me throughout the whole piece. Two weeks later his deputy minister appeared before us and it was the same old stonewalling.
"The bureaucrats were running the institution and that's why we don't think they're competent to handle it any more and that's why this committee has recommended that Transport Canada be removed from this responsibility."
After question period, Cannon told reporters that both he and Public
Security Minister Stockwell Day will look at the senate's
"We are always in a process of finding better ways to be able to ensure security and safety to the
passengers," Cannon said.
Liberal transport critic Joe Volpe said he will study the
Senate report, including the recommendation to take airport security
away from Transport Canada.
"Whether Transport Canada is the appropriate department to
address the security issue at airports, that's another story,"
Volpe told reporters after the Liberal caucus meeting. "I think
it's a suggestion that's worth examining and examining
The Senate committee made numerous other recommendations in its
report, including ones dealing with they called a "lack of
transparency over security expenditures generally."
"The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has not
provided a full accounting of the money it spends," the report
stated. "The public needs to know how much money is being
spent, in which areas, to address airport security."
On this front, the committee recommended that CATSA fully report on
the amount it spends at each airport for screening, the government
introduce legislation allowing the auditor general to audit each
airport and the government ask the auditor general to conduct a
"value-for-money" audit on security expenditures.
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