The Secure Air Travel Act (SATA) was introduced in Bill C-51 to codify the way people are put on the Canadian no-fly list, and the process to remove one’s name from the list. In our constitutional challenge, CCLA argues that there is insufficient protection for due process built into the Act. Considering the very serious consequences an inability to travel can have on a person, this is a significant problem that needs to be addressed.
C-59 makes a couple of tweaks to the Act, but it falls far short of fixing it.
In its backgrounder documents the government stated that the amendments to SATA are stopgap measures and implied that more substantive reworks are to come. However, SATA is the law we have, and it is affecting people right now, so the solutions are also needed now.
CCLA believes the thresholds for suspicion that allow the Minister of Public Safety to put someone on the list are too low, the inability for a person to know they are on the list is unfair and unreasonable, and the appeals process that allows secret evidence to be considered, without a Special Advocate to protect the rights of the affected individual, denies important due process rights.
C-59 does make two small fixes to the no-fly legislation. Under the proposed legislation, parents will be allowed to be told if their child or ward is not on the list, which is a welcome change but hardly fixes the problem of children being improperly placed on the no-fly list. The appeal process is also slightly improved. The current law says that, in an appeal, if the Minister doesn’t respond to a request to be removed from the list within 90 days, he is deemed to have refused to remove that person. In the new law, if he doesn’t respond within 120 days, he is deemed to have agreed to the request.