The Canadian No Fly List: A Sociological Analysis of its Supposed Distinctiveness
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Since the events of 9-11, aviation security has become a mounting concern for both the American and Canadian government. Because of the alleged “threats to security,” the Canadian government has followed in American footsteps and enacted the Passenger Protect Program, otherwise known as the “no fly list.” This thesis will examine the emergence of the Canadian version of the no fly list in the context of the U.S. “Secure Flight” program in order to analyze the claim that the Canadian list is unique and distinct from the American version. Drawing from the literature on surveillance and risk, this thesis suggests that both lists are operating on the precautionary principle and are thus not distinct in purpose, process or overall outcome, and that a “made in Canada” approach is a misleading notion. In fact, this thesis will show that the Canadian and U.S. governments continue to share no fly lists, use the same criteria and sources for placing an individual’s name on the list, and handle redress issues in the same manner. Most importantly, the consequences for ordinary citizens are the same regardless of whether one finds themselves on the Canadian or the American list. This thesis will (a) describe the origins of the no fly list in Canada and the USA, (b) examine the ways in which personal data are obtained from the Passenger Name Record (PNR), how these are used to construct the list(s) and how they are mined for further purposes and (c) what the consequences are for specific classes of persons, especially minorities, refugee and asylum claimants, civil libertarians, peace activists and others.