I'd like to thank the committee for the invitation to speak here today.
I'll be making my presentation in English only, but I will be able to answer questions in French.
I have two serious concerns about the Canadian aviation security system that have nothing to do with the good work done on the front lines.
I want to be as clear as possible on my four initial take-home points.
First, aviation security is a matter of public security. The public must be engaged in an honest, frank discussion of the risks, responsibilities, and uncertainties of aviation security. To my mind, it is simply unacceptable that we have a large sphere of public policy that we cannot discuss openly.
Second, I see no compelling evidence that risk management is the appropriate model for managing aviation security. I'll return to this, but it is crucial to say that aviation safety and aviation security are fundamentally different objects and they require different manners of management. Safety is an area in which one can accumulate knowledge and therefore make risk judgments. If a bolt fails 800 times, we may assume that it will fail the 801st. However, aviation security, because it is driven by individuals, is fundamentally different. Because 800 people have passed through a security checkpoint securely is absolutely no indication that the 801st person will be secure. Ironically, then, the more we know about aviation security, the more wrong we are.
Third, because of this underlying uncertainty, safety management systems and security management systems are fundamentally different. I want to highlight the managerial structure that places CATSA, in particular, in an impossible position. Transport Canada has defined a regulatory structure that is prescriptive, yet best practice and Treasury Board Secretariat rules about risk management require CATSA to be flexible. So CATSA is stuck in between the best international practices and the prescriptive regulations of Transport Canada. To me, this should be one of the key grounds of discussion.
Finally, I think profiling is a dangerous path to go down. Profiling by nationality, origin, race, ethnicity, and language are all incredibly misleading.
There are a number of questions, and I want to do my best to respond to them in a succinct way.
First of all, the threat is not simply to the Canadian aviation sector. Rather, it is to Canadian society. The way we protect the Canadian aviation sector must reflect the broader needs and requirements of Canadian society. It seems essential to me that the way we police aviation reflects the values that Canada represents. It seems to me that we need to be very careful about, for example, going down the profiling path.
Second, with all respect to my colleague, Mr. Sela, from Israel, I would argue that it is incredibly dangerous to follow the path of the Israeli security system as the gold model for international aviation security. I understand that this is the discourse within the majority of public discussions about aviation security. But I think the Israeli situation--geopolitically, legally, and strategically--in terms of risk and threat, is so fundamentally different from what it is in Canada that we really go a step too far if we adopt or even seek to adopt the Israeli model. I'm sure Mr. Sela and I can have a frank and robust conversation about that in the next two hours.
To give a clear example, we all know that we may be burglarized or assaulted in our homes, and yet we invest in police forces, and perhaps we invest in locks for our doors. We do not put down razor wire and land mines. That's because we have a different understanding of what the risk is to our homes and to us than what it is to the country or to the border between North Korea and South Korea. If we are to understand what measures to take, we have to understand what the risk is, in particular to Canada.
Third, I'm increasingly concerned about the American tail wagging the Canadian aviation security dog, if that isn't stretching the metaphor too far. At the moment it appears—and I say “it appears” because there is not transparent information about this available to the public—that American security requirements are changing what screening gets done at Canadian airports. This is not just in pre-clearance areas, but those are the spaces where it's most visible. The American government requires that extra screening be done on passengers to the United States.
My question is how is that being done? I simply don't know. I'm a serious person. It's not because I'm lazy. It's not because I haven't been asking questions. We simply don't know what the rules are. We don't know what the rules are about the degree to which American regulations are pushing Canadian security.
Finally, one of the key questions, to me, is how secure is our aviation security system?
I want to make two points. The first is that, in one sense, it's unknowable. It's unknowable because we don't know what the next threat is. Again, this is not because of anything in the process or in our intelligence agencies; it's simply that the aviation security system is a deeply uncertain one.
We can make broad generalities about highway traffic safety and say there will be 3,000 people killed on Canadian roads over the next year, but we can't say which accident will happen or which accident will be fatal. We can only draw large rules to say that this is the speed limit, or this is what we do with traffic lights.
In the same way, we do not know--and I would say in some way we can't know--how secure our aviation security system is because there's no way of putting those high-impact, low-frequency events into any kind of model. There's just not enough data that lets us say Canada has a 90% security rate, whereas Israel has 99%, whereas Burkina Faso has 95%. So we have to operate within this atmosphere of uncertainty, which means looking for incremental improvement rather than some kind of metric or number.
In particular, the millimetre wave scanners represent a genuine leap forward in aviation security screening technology. There is no question that they detect not only the current threats that we face better in terms of liquid explosives and in terms of prohibited items, but they go after the next generation of threats much better also—that is, for example, ceramic knives or other kinds of devices that are not seen by the current metal detector archway. The millimetre wave scanning is, without a doubt, not magic, but a much better mousetrap. So I think they should be rolled out across the country.
One of the reasons I think these are better is that despite the public hesitation about being naked--or being seen to be naked, although the images themselves are never identified with an actual person—it is much less intrusive than the physical pat-down by an officer.
Let me make my recommendations to this committee. I'll be as clear as possible.
First, I think we need to speak plainly and truthfully to the Canadian public about the risk and the uncertainty within the aviation security system. That includes telling both the negative story about uncertainty and the positive story about success. We cannot minimize the degree to which Canadian aviation security has turned on a dime over the past 10 years to provide a much-enhanced level of security, with new waves of technology being rolled out every three or four years.
Secondly, I think we need to say clearly to our international partners that we are going to treat passengers in Canada to the same standard that we do Canadian citizens. I think there's a very good example of how this has worked to Canada's advantage with the EU-Canada passenger name record, or PNR, agreement—not the advanced passenger information, which is your nationality, but all that other stuff that goes on the reservation form. That agreement, unlike the one between the EU and America, has been given a lot of approval and approbation by privacy officials. So there's a real example where Canada has led the world in doing aviation security better.
Third, I would say that the millimetre wave scanner is a better mousetrap and should be rolled out across the country. Even if there is a cost involved and a public diplomacy campaign needs to be carried out to demonstrate its utility, I think it's a better mousetrap that is less invasive and will allow us to do security screening better and, frankly, with less profiling.
I really look forward to your questions. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
I want to apologize. I have a little head cold, but I will try to stay online as much as I can.
First of all, it is an honour and a pleasure to be with you today. I welcome Professor Salter's viewpoint. I've seen it many times. We are definitely on two sides of the line here.
I'm not going to go through my presentation but rather give you some nine points of what I think is wrong and how to fix not aviation security--because I don't believe in it--but airport security. Aviation security alone will not secure Canadians. If I can blow up a terminal in any country, then the whole aviation concept is broken up. What I suggest is looking at airport security as part of a national transportation and border security system. It's not just the aviation security that needs to be looked at.
An independent agency by law, that is above the politics and the bureaucracies of the procedures of the government, should be entitled to do the job. In the Israeli system, the gold standard, this means that the Israeli Security Agency, which reports to the Israeli Prime Minister, is the only agency that can regulate and put together a system that should protect Israelis and everybody visiting the country from any—and I would say it again, any--terrorist crime imposed on the country.
There's one thing I want to stress very carefully: you cannot adopt part of the Israeli system, which a lot of nations are trying to do, wrongfully. The Israeli way of protecting the borders, the airports, seaports, and transportation is a complete system that cannot be broken up. If you break it up and take only one or two things that you like from that system, you might do more harm than good. The biggest issue with Israeli systems, and Professor Salter has done a very good job in fighting it, is what you call profiling. We do not do racial profiling or make any other comments about people's religion, but we do a lot of behaviour profiling. I will get back to that also with your questions.
The essence of the system basically lies in 90% sharing of real-time intelligence information. If you don't do that, you can put in the best systems in the world and you're doomed. If you don't know what's coming at you, how can you protect yourself?
Security and response—I say it again, security and response--together...[Inaudible—Editor]...the national resilience. I haven't seen any response plans equipped with CATSA's approval to do the so-called aviation security they have the mandate for.
Technology and humans are not interchangeable. You cannot bring automatic machines and sniffers, and I don't know what, instead of people, and vice versa. There is a very fine line of decisions to be made of whether you go the human way or the technology way.
We have a system in Israel called SAFE, which I outline in my papers, which stands for security, architecture, fore planning, and engineering. It basically protects the critical infrastructure, including airports, seaports, and border crossings.
Finally, airport security is not aviation security or vice versa. Airport security is an involved system. I have made my points many times before. The system that North America is using—and I tend to agree with Professor Salter, that the Americans are setting the security standards and not the Canadians—basically states that we have one point in the terminal where we check the passengers, and that's it. I don't care what kind of equipment you have there because that is the wrong approach to airport security, because if I can overcome this point, I am clear to do whatever I want at the airport, and that is very dangerous.
I'll say one last thing about the body scanners. I don't know why everybody is running to buy this expensive and really useless machine. The reason for that is...and I cannot, and I'm sorry I cannot; I can do it in person, for people who have security clearance.
At any rate, I can overcome the body scanners in two minutes with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747. You would never, ever see it in those scanners. The technology is wrong. It is right for what happened on Christmas Day, but it is wrong for aviation security. That's why we haven't put this in the Ben Gurion airport. We'd rather put in different systems that can sniff very carefully both luggage and people for explosives residues that are so small that even if you had walked by a bomb, it would sound an alarm.
I welcome your questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Mr. Sela and Professor Salter.
This, of course, is not the first time we've had a conversation together, although this is the first time we can actually see Mr. Sela, even if it's via the technology of the day.
I welcome your ideas. I don't think you were debating last time, but you were making your presentations at different times. At least one other colleague around this table had the benefit of some of your perceptions.
You may be aware that just the other day we had people from CATSA and from Transport Canada discussing this very issue, or at least part of it. That discussion had to do with the technology that Professor Salter says is great and is the best available. He says we're making progress by leaps and bounds by investing in it—I hope I'm not misinterpreting what he said—while, Mr. Sela, you say we shouldn't waste our money.
I guess we're trying to find a different way. I suppose many of us believe that if we're going to have security in the aviation sector in Canada, we'll have to use a multi-dimensional approach.
I hope you'll forgive me, Mr. Sela, if I say that the gold standard in Israel works great in Israel--I'm not going to question your perception--but also ask Professor Salter whether he agrees that the very unique situation in Israel, no matter how well it works, may not necessarily be a gold standard for Canada.
If that's his impression, perhaps he'd share with us the reason for that.
I don't think that's the question. The question is do you have a system, not the level of security. You are confusing two different issues--the system and the level.
I agree that Israel has a very, very high level of security, which it needs, but the system fundamentally should be the same. I can describe it to you as the volume on your radio. You have a system that works, and if your threats go up, you just turn up the volume button. You don't change the way you do your screening. You don't add equipment. You don't retrain your people. You don't invest in your airport security every year because other incidents have happened. You are running after the incidents instead of being in front of them.
Israel has never banned liquids. Israel has never looked at what people carry onto the airplane other than what the ICAO has banned. And we have never had any problem in the last 25 years...although I can tell you that we have 70 threats, real-time threats, which means that within two hours, somebody will blow something up near the airport or in the airport. And we never had an incident like that.
I agree that the level is very high. The system should be the same. Now, we're not profiling. I don't even suggest to you profiling. I don't even suggest you go to the system that we have in Israel of interviewing passengers. I suggest that instead of looking at everybody, create a trusted traveller and trusted worker identification process, in which travellers who would like to walk through security very fast would actually surrender some of their information to the authorities and be--as you wish--pre-screened as trusted travellers.
Once you have done this, you will tremendously reduce the number of people you have to check. Your checkpoints then become a very fast walk-through.
You do need cameras to watch who is coming into your airport, what kinds of cars, who is doing what, who is coming into your terminals, what's going on in the terminals, and then, of course, what's going on at the sleeves to the airlines.
We can argue until tomorrow whose system is better, but I think we have the proof that it works.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for being here, Mr. Salter and Mr. Sela. I think we're hitting a sensitive nerve. My question is for both of you. Mr. Salter can answer first, then Mr. Sela.
I'm concerned about what is going on in Canada, and I'll explain to you why. On December 25, we witnessed this change in American standards, and we realized that our Air Transport Security Authority, which hires private contractors for security services, did not have the required staff and had to call on all available police departments to assist it.
You're talking about systems. The security system we have established, which is to contract security out to private subcontractors, raises a lot of problems in my mind, particularly with what we are learning today. We want the employees to be reliable. There have been tenders and subcontractors have been changed. As you know, uniforms have disappeared. Journalists got their hands on uniforms and were able to penetrate certain airport areas. So that's frightening. We want security, but we don't want to pay the price for it.
I'd like to hear what you have to say about the fact that the Canadian Air Transport Security Administration uses a private subcontractor business and about our ability to retain appropriate staff in order to guarantee that the work gets done when there are alerts.
I'm going to answer in French, even though I don't know certain technical terms in that language. I'm sorry about that.
First, there is an airport security system in Canada. It is a highly complex system because, at an airport, there are local police officers, border officers, investigators and auditors from Transport Canada, who audit CATSA's systems and procedures. There are also people for CATSA and perhaps other federal agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It's a complex system. In my view, the line structure isn't clear.
If I understand correctly, CATSA is solely responsible for screening. The only things that employees try to detect are prohibited items. If they find some banned item, they can tell passengers that they may not be in possession of that item or hit the red button and call someone who can conduct an investigation. Under the current system, CATSA has very limited responsibilities.
In response to your question and to what Mr. Sela said, I would say that we in Canada have the technology to monitor the identity of airport workers and to ensure security. It's called the restricted area identity card. This card has won awards in the field of innovative technology in Canada. It is also a model for other air authorities in the world. Uniforms are part of the system and are not a threat to air security because the biometric card is very reliable.
Under the current system, the sole task of CATSA workers is screening. They must detect prohibited items. This is not a security function, but rather an observation function. If CATSA calls on subcontractors, I don't think that's a problem because their task is not really a security one. I'm aware of your security concern, but I think that, if this function remains an observation function, hiring subcontractors will not pose a real problem.
I'll now let Mr. Sela answer.
You know, now we're going into a system that I certainly don't approve of and you want me to explain why it doesn't work. That's very difficult for me.
I can tell you that the threat levels in Israel are going up and down a thousand times more than they go up and down in North America, and we never, ever have to hire outside people or reinforce the people who are working at the airport or the border crossing. The reason for that, again, is the system. You can turn it up, you can turn it down, but you never change the system. That's why I'm so adamant: get the system going. You have one place at the airport where you want to check everybody.
The card that Professor Salter has so well described is a nice technology, but it works in Canada. [Inaudible--Editor]...in Hong Kong or in Singapore. More importantly, does it replace the TWIC card in the United States? No.
So you're going about doing technology in your own little backyard hoping the rest of the world will go with you. This, in my opinion, is not the way to do it. My opinion is that in the case of aviation security, ICAO needs to play a much higher role in enforcing standards for security, like they do in safety. I've been in front of ICAO twice. I haven't been very successful with it.
I think if Canada wants to play a role in this, Canada, the United States, England, Germany, Russia should come in front of ICAO and say, “Listen guys, enough play, it's time to do. Come up with some regulations that all the airports will follow and we will enforce them.” This is the only way you can come up with a system that works.
Wow. Thank you. That's very kind. I appreciate that there's someone other than my parents who has even looked at my book online.
“Governmentality” is just a way of looking at the rules that guide the formation of other rules. One thing that speaks to the question of subcontracting is that modern government attempts to be as efficient as possible, and so when CATSA looked at the screening operations, they asked, is it more efficient for us to have these be federal employees or subcontractors? They said that because of the flexibility of the workforce, because of the task required, it's more efficient for us to do it with subcontractors than to do it ourselves.
So they simply hired the people who were already doing the job to now wear the CATSA uniforms and they have now gone through several rounds of repeating the contract. “Governmentality” is just that way of thinking about how the rules are made.
I think you're exactly right--well, I think I'm right--in saying that the modern security system is dispersed. Mr. Sela has mentioned ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets the standards of recommended practices for airport security. There's a universal security audit program, which ICAO runs. Canada has participated—it was the first country to participate—and yet those results are not made public. They must exist; they must be available to you, but not to the general public.
Under the Chicago treaty, we should have a national aviation security agency, one agency that's responsible for aviation security. Canada does not; we have a number of agencies and ministries that are responsible for different parts of it. And then we have carrier sanctions. The air carriers are responsible for security on their planes, but there's also the secure flight program. There are lots of different rules and regulations and agencies.
My argument would be not that larger government is better and that it would be better to have one big agency that was responsible for every part of the system, although I certainly take Mr. Sela's point that this works in the small case of Israel. Rather, my point would be that all of these different agencies combine to make a system that is extremely complex, and that this complexity could be resilient and could also be confusing.
I also went through Pearson yesterday. There was a large crowd outside the security checkpoint, because they were putting in pat-downs all across the screening points. I said to the screener, “This is new”, and she said, “Yes, the regulation came down yesterday. It may be gone tomorrow.” I said, “Do you not know?” She replied, “Why would anyone tell us?”
Now, I would make the argument that it would be good to tell us, the passengers, because then we would know to leave half an hour or an hour early for security at the airport. To not tell the front line staff what the regulations are and what the expectations are seems to be a negative result of this kind of synergy of all these different regulations, all these different competing components.
Absolutely. You're right; the Ben Gurion airport, which nobody wants as a gold standard, and I believe it, is run like a business. They actually make money on security. You won't believe it, but they do. They are so efficient and so good that people who are going through security first of all are not harassed. They feel very comfortable. They have enough time to get all their money out at the duty free. They have created the Buy and Bye, an Israeli patent, for people who are going abroad to visit somebody. They can buy the duty-free, leave it in the airport, and when they come back they can pick it up. The Ben Gurion airport is one of the most efficient airports in the world.
I want to comment on something Professor Salter said. The Israeli ISA is probably one of the smallest security organizations in the world, not the largest. And it's not because Israel is small. It's because the security agency is very efficient. We have also a lot of government agencies that are responsible for different areas in the security of Israel, but one--only one--regulates the system and says what needs to be done. If that is clear, you can have 17 jurisdictions at the airport. If they know exactly what the rules and regulations are, they can follow each one by themselves.
The other point I want to make is this. If you have so many jurisdictions responsible, why don't you train and drill them? I have never seen a drill that has involved everybody at the airport, for whatever scenario you want to do, without disrupting, of course, the airport's operation.
I'll give you an example. The other day I arrived from Toronto on a direct flight with Air Canada to Tel Aviv. I'm some kind of a VIP, and I go through the airport very fast. All of a sudden, somebody stops me in front of customs. I say, “I want to see my grandchild. What's going on?” He says, “Just one minute, sir”. And I say, “Okay, it's a drill”, but he won't tell me it's a drill. He says, “Just a minute, we have a situation. It will take just a minute.” It took about two and a half minutes and they let the crowd through.
It was a bomb drill in the middle of the secure area in customs. It was drilled by all the forces. It took two and a half minutes of the customers' time, but the forces were drilled and the lessons were learned.
You need to take this seriously. If, God forbid, something happens in one of your airports, you will never recover. You will always point fingers as to why we didn't do this, why we didn't do that.
There are solutions that are not explosive. They just need to be carried out in the right way.
I have two more questions, and I want to get Mr. Sela in as well. Thank you.
Mr. Sela, do you have a brief response as well, or do you want me to go on to the next one and then respond...?
Actually, this might lead into it as well. My next question really has to do with your behavioural screening approach, which I think is very worthwhile.
Currently here in Canada we use a very random screening approach. You have to step on a mat and you're told whether to go for random screening or not. I know that many MPs are chosen for secondary screening every week, and I'm not sure that's a good use of resources. In fact, my three children and I were set aside for random screening once. I'm not sure if that was a good use of resources either.
How does your approach, Mr. Sela, differ from...and specifically, the behavioural screening approach versus the approach we have now?
If you want to dovetail into my first question, which was how we have a better and more integrated system building on the body scanners, then feel free.
A voice: Did they take your tequila?
Mrs. Bonnie Crombie: No. I didn't have any tequila.
Thank you, gentlemen, for appearing today.
My questions zero in on two particular issues. One is the trusted traveller program, or a synopsis of that.
I recently applied for NEXUS and a CANPASS, just to see what the system was and to understand better the issue of aviation security. To be honest, I never found it to be at all intrusive, but of course, I haven't gone for my interview yet. We'll see what happens there.
I had a chance a year and a half ago to travel to Israel with my mother and 30 people from a synagogue in New Jersey. It was quite interesting when I came back to Ben Gurion airport. Our vehicle got stopped and I was in the front, so they asked me a whole bunch of questions. I got out. He asked for my ID, and I told him I was a member of Parliament from Canada. As I gave him my ID and they started to take the luggage out of the back for five or six people who were in the same van as me, as soon as he saw my identification he immediately told them to stop taking the suitcases out, he put the suitcases back in, and sent me on my way, along with all my passengers.
This is versus the situation in Canada, where I travel pretty much every week or very frequently. I get asked what I do for a living and they send me to another second or third layer of security, which I've always found to be very interesting. As I say, I go though airports a lot, and I have, I would suggest, probably one in three times gone through another level of security screening, although I can come here to this place and walk around with total freedom and sit beside anybody I want, including cabinet members and the Prime Minister, without any issue of security screening. So I agree that there is an issue in relation to what we do.
In Israel in particular and other democracies across the world, is there a more robust system of trusted traveller, and to what extent do we exclude people? What percentage, would you suggest, of those people would be excluded as a trusted traveller versus the people who go through the first layer of security and the potential other layers of security?
In Israel, as I said before, I will make Professor Salter's worries go away. We have done away with interviews for trusted traveller cards. We now have an automatic system that looks like a passport photo booth in which there is a computer and a mouse, and you sit and answer 10 questions.
Once you have done that, the system delivers a “yea” or “nay.” If it delivers a “yea,” you get a card.
You need to go through this procedure every year, and you are a trusted traveller. There is no person involved, no person-to-person interviews. If you fail the system, you have to go and see somebody.
I'll tell you how good the system is. When I was asked to check the system and I went to the manufacturer, the guy who actually greeted me at the port was an ISA agent. He said, “Take my ID card, because you can't get into the system without a valid card.” So he gave me his ID card, and I put it in my pocket.
I went to the machine and answered all the questions, and I was flagged. When I got out, I said, “Why did you flag me? What am I, a terrorist?” He said, “Yes, you lied to the machine.” I said, “What do you mean, I lied to the machine? I can't lie to the machine.” He said, “The machine asked you if somebody gave you anything before you entered, and you said no.” I thought, “Oh my God, right; he gave me his card.”
Even unintentionally, the machine found out that I was hiding information.
So we have systems--that's what I'm trying to say--that can ease the tension and can make people much more comfortable in acquiring trusted traveller cards.
First of all, is it possible to provide information in relation to those questions, what basis they come from, psychological profiling or whatever the case may be? I have to move on to another question, but I would be interested in more information about that program, if you could provide that to us.
The question I have next is in relation to profiling. Quite frankly, I did some research on profiling generally. I came across a Canadian Human Rights Commission report, The Effectiveness of Profiling from a National Security Perspective, and I note that profiling is not just racial profiling. There are examples of different types of profiling, including behaviour, geographical, perspective, and of course, the last one, being consumer profiling, or racial profiling in essence.
I think that would be a dangerous road to enter, but certainly security, as you say, crosses all boundaries of politics and sometimes reasonableness to make sure that Canadians and other countries are secure.
Are you suggesting, Mr. Salter, that we eliminate any sense of profiling and get to a point where, except for the trusted traveller program and people who are exempted from the second or third levels of screening, we screen everybody? Do we come to a point where we forget who the person is, forget what their history or background is, and just issue them an edict where they have to go through every level of security?
No. I gave presentations on the system and the highlights of the system at two aviation security conferences and about five TSA conferences.
I think the major problem you are looking at--Professor Salter said it very nicely, the tail that waggles the dog--is that the TSA is actually calling the shots here.
First of all, there's been no TSA chief in the United States for a year and a half, so Napolitano probably thinks it's not important.
The second thing is that Mr. Kip Hawley, who was the last TSA commissioner, took a stand that said don't confuse me with the facts. We know best, we do what we do, and that's it. You can do whatever you want to do in Israel, and that's it.
I don't think it's a good approach. I think you need to look at what we have, what the Germans have, what the Brits have, what the Singaporeans have, and whatever your allies have as technology. I know you have intelligent people. Look at those systems and have some consultants come to consult with you. You can then decide on which system fits your style of life, your laws, and the way in which you want to conduct security at the airport.
I first want to comment on what Professor Salter just said.
There is no intelligence involved in the trusted traveller program in Israel--none whatsoever. We do give trusted travellers to foreigners; we don't know anything about them. But I can tell you this about the 9/11 people: we would have caught them one by one, because they had something to hide, and we find out if you have something to hide. This is a very good system, and I do hope that somebody will take note of it.
For the perimeter security, I don't want to scare you guys, but I can take a pickup truck today, fill it with 500 kilos of explosives, drive to the front door of the terminal at Pearson, and blow it up. You will have an aviation disaster almost as big as it was in Europe with the ash. You don't even mind that all this glass that is built in the airport is not blastproof. People won't be killed by the blast. They will be killed by the glass.
You do have to know who is entering your airport. If you have a suspicious vehicle, you have to stop it. You have to stop it at such a distance that if, God forbid, it is a suicide bomber, then you can mitigate it before it creates any harm.
I can go on and on. You know the security lines you have at the airports? It's the biggest threat to aviation ever. You do not want many people to stand in one place. You want them to flow. If you stop the flow and have them wait three hours in line for a 10-second security, this is not a security measure. This is a security risk.
First of all, the Ogdensburg agreement says to the United States, for example, that Canada will not be a launching place for attacks to the U.S. So there's a very real way in which our security is tied to our neighbour's in the same way. But Israel is subject to much more frequent suicide bombings, in particular, than Canada has ever been. Ahmed Ressam, the millennium bomber, is sort of one of the primary events that we had, and the Air India attack. That has been two in the past 35 years.
So our level of threat is very much lower. It is true that al Qaeda has named Canada as one of the allies of the United States. That puts us on the radar. So I don't want to say that we are a country that has not been named specifically, because we have, but in particular because of our geographic position and because of our politics and our open society, I think we are in a much different situation. Our risk level is much lower than that of Israel.
I want to pick up on something that Mr. Sela said. He said that if you can't detect those individuals about whom you are worried at the perimeter of the airport, and then identify them for greater screening as they go through the system....
I want you to think about what that would mean for Canada. That would mean CCTV or some kind of detection on, what, the 409, on the Airport Parkway, on the QEW? It would mean pushing surveillance out from the terminal and from the airport in a way that I think does not really sit well with the Canadian culture of freedom of movement.
With that, I will thank our guests.
The challenge for all of us is to provide safety and security to travellers, and to have two divergent views on that is good for our committee to hear, I think. We look forward to meeting and visiting with you again in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Sela, for your time today. I know you're with us not physically but certainly in spirit and mind.
Mr. Salter, thank you for your contribution.
We are going to go into a subcommittee, but first I'd like the attention of all the committee. I have passed around a request for travel. That is subject to us getting enough people organized and prepared to travel in May after our May week break in our constituencies. I need a motion to approve it so that we can take it to the budget committee.
Monsieur Laframboise has moved it. Mr. Jean has seconded it.
All in favour?
(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Thank you. I appreciate it. That will go to the liaison committee today.