The TSA is all over the news – and rightfully so. But what to Canadians know about OUR air travel system. For me – nothing really. Just personal experience at Pearson International Airport. I’ve never had a problem there but I have also never traveled with my children, so rather than be ignorant of the law I thought I would find out.
First, I did the obvious: searched online. To my surprise I wasn’t able to come up with anything after almost an hour of digging. I think my search terms were the problem but there is a chance that the information just isn’t out there yet because I am only looking for answers to 3 questions:
1. Is it illegal to record video within the airport?
2. What Constitutional/Charter rights do I forfeit when I/we enter the building?
3. What recourses do I have to protect my rights and the rights of children in my care?
I failed to find anything with regards to these terms so I switched to a legal-minded search and looked for laws surrounding these things. I found no laws with regard to video recording in the airport and for our Rights I found the obvious: the Charter and Constitution. Two documents well worth reading and memorizing. I am still working on the latter.
I thought about it for a bit and while I was wandering through my mind I found myself roll-playing possibilities at the airport. What WOULD I say if security told me to shut off the camera? What WOULD I say if they selected me or my kids of a physical pat-down? This lead me to thinking that it would be good to call the police and ask. I found that the Peel Regional Police department is responsible (at least in part) for law enforcement (LE) at Pearson and they liaise between other Canadian LE bodies. So I called them.
The Peel Regional Police Constable I spoke with did a great job of handling my questions when he clearly thought I was paranoid. Here are the condensed points from my phone calls:
He said that if the child sets off the metal detector the security staff will Wand the child and, where the wand beeps, will pat the child. No matter how much I explained that I was against this he maintained that it is procedure, nothing to worry about, non-invasive and would be fine. I think it is rather obvious that if this is done against the child’s will it is therefore a violation of the child’s rights. This is when he called me paranoid and told me to stay off YouTube and Facebook because “those people” are the bad ones who have done something wrong but are omitting it from the video. I countered that I saw video of agents touching children and he said he sees that all the time where people put drugs into the diapers of children etc. To me that is not justification for the blanket violation of our rights. If drugs are a big issue the solution is to place dogs at the screening lines. Not more convenient and not cheaper but damn sure not a violation of our rights.
The bottom line with this constable was simple: You do not have to do this, but then you cannot fly. There is no law that says you must give up your rights and there is no law that can make you but because the airport is privately owned and operated they can make up rules that – if you do not follow – can restrict you from using their planes. That statement is clear and I understand it, however it is not within the legal confines of our Constitution or Charter. Why not? Well, what power, right or authority does a private organization have that allows it to supersede the rule of law? NOT having that kind of power is one of the defining principles behind the Rule of Law vs the Rule of Men.
Alright, onto the next phone call. The constable suggested that I call the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) because they are the government body that conducts the screening process at the airport. He gave me their website address and from there I found the phone number and called. The first person I spoke to was not sure how to handle my questions about our Rights so he transferred me to another department, but before he did that he said that there should be no problem with video. He put me on hold, did some fact-checking and came back and said
As far as I can tell -I’ve just verified and there’s nothing from the security aspect of the secured checkpoints that would prevent you from using a camcorder AT ALL.
When I spoke to the second person at the CATSA I explained my question again. I pointed out that we have the right to unreasonable search and seizure and that I understand bags must be searched prior to boarding. I also pointed out that wasn’t an issue. The issue is that I refuse to allow anyone under any circumstances to put their hands on my children. Period. His response was,
Uhm, ok, no you have the right… Uhm, I’m, I’m not authorized to uh uh to- not to comment on that but I don’t know the answer uh uh to that question. What I am gonna do is gonna take your name and number down, and I am gonna get someone to give you a call regarding this because thats… uh ??eached the security operations centre and like I said I don’t have any uh answer to give you, but I will find someone that has uh uh that’s available to comment and give you more information on top of that.
There was no way I was going to give him anything. Last year I called the Ontario Health Care office to ask questions about travel and they froze my health card and I was still inside Canada. It has been dramatic to resolve and it is still not resolved. So no, you cannot know who I am.
I politely inquired about alternative ways of reaching that persons whom has the answer but his only solution was to use their website to make email contact because it would enable a paper trail. They really want to know who the people are who contact them.
Using the number given to me by CATSA I called Pearson. The person who answered was surprised by my questions and seemed to really want to get off the phone with me. I didn’t allow it by continuing to ask my questions is different ways. I was put on hold while he asked if anyone knew what to tell me about my right not to be touched. When he came back he said that he has no idea how to answer that because the Charter is universal and does not apply to people selectively, so I should ask a lawyer about things like this. I was tired of this person so I did not push the video issue and I allowed the call to come to an end.
Because I am willing to miss my flight in order to enforce and protect the rights of myself and my children I called Air Canada to ask, “If I have a problem along the way – like a hiccup at the security checkpoint – and I miss my flight can I catch the next one?” The answer was very simply yes. It is called a same-day change and it is $75, which I believe is per ticket.
The Final Word
Well, there isn’t one. I did not find a law that blocks me from recording but I did not hire a lawyer to ensure that there really is not one. It is a possibility that there is a law but it is more likely there would be case-law regarding it. I am not worried about the video issue because I would only want to record our interactions with airport security so that I would have some sort of unbiased evidence in the unlikely event of an incident. We know that the word of the agent it going to supersede mine and we know that airport video will not be available if it is in my favour. Refer to the guy the cop tasered/taser’d/tased to death in B.C.. Actually, refer to YouTube like the Peel constable suggested I stay away from. It’s all over the place – if you don’t have video to support you then you’re guilty.
As for our right to unreasonable search and seizure… Well it was made clear to me that we are in fact allowed to tell them not to touch us, however they can then refuse to allow you past security. In other words – not fly. This illegal. This is in place because there are people who smuggle and they want to catch them. I do not mind my bag going through an x-ray machine to ensure that I am safe because if there were no bag searches people would smuggle a lot more often and I do not want to be trapped inside a 700km/hr death-tube for hours on-end with a smuggler or anyone else who operates outside of the law. I would not consent to a bag search for entrance into a building or bus, but a plane is not a problem.
I realize that I am giving up my right to free against unreasonable search my private property to fly but there is no way I will give up my children’s rights to their privacy. Search their bags but do not touch their bodies. And yes, I am willing to miss a flight to enforce and protect their rights.
Canadian Constitution: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/const/Const_index.html
Charter of Rights and Freedoms: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/charter/CHART_E.PDF
TSA touching a little boy with no shirt: http://youtu.be/IjS4ZxZ7jic
Man refuses TSA molestation and does not fly: http://youtu.be/u2KXi66Rnh0
Woman says she was sexually assaulted by the TSA: http://youtu.be/eeFhehcUPBc
TSA molests woman then disrespects her cries for Police help: http://youtu.be/RwvcpS5iLjI
TSA agent charged as a pedophile: http://youtu.be/_ixbpCsN0r8
TSA Removes 95 year old’s adult diaper: http://youtu.be/9FAN_uWGHi4
95 year old speaks out against adult diaper check: http://youtu.be/X7XWnotWU5M