The office of (Ottawa) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it was not aware that International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan took steps earlier this year to be exempted from various pre-flight security checks at Canadian airports.
Posted at 12:00 p.m
The press reported on Tuesday that Minister Sajjan was finally able to obtain a partial exemption after an unusual move of senior officials from the Foreign Ministry to the Transport Ministry.
That request, filed on Jan. 26, was intended to allow him to “bypass security checks at Canadian airports on Canadian commercial flights if in possession of classified documents.”
However, this request was denied by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and resulted in an email exchange between the Department of Transportation, the Department of State and that organization.
Finally, in February, Minister Sajjan was granted a partial exemption: only cabinet documents that are in a secure briefcase would not be subjected to a security check.
Under Canadian airport security regulations, a limited number of Canadians are exempt from passenger screening measures before boarding an aircraft, including the Prime Minister and his immediate family and the Governor General.
“The prime minister’s office is not involved in this process,” it said on Tuesday evening.
Since entering federal politics, Mr Sajjan, who is of Sikh faith, has complained to some of his cabinet colleagues that he sometimes gets second searches of his turban after the alarm goes off when he passes through passenger checkpoints before they can Entering the security area of the airport.
dissatisfaction with other parties
The Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois and a security expert had the same message for Minister Sajjan: no one is above the law.
“There are elected Sikhs in the Conservatives and the NDP, and about 500,000 Canadians are Sikh believers. This is a carte blanche for an elected Liberal who will receive privileges that his other peers in the same situation do not have,” commented Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus.
Again, we hear from Minister Sajjan for the wrong reasons. It is clear that there should be no special privileges or preferential treatment for airport security, whether you are a minister, MP or citizen.
Kristina Michaud, MP for the Bloc Québécois
National Security Advisor Michel Juneau-Katsuya argued that Minister Sajjan was sending a very bad message to the people. “Elected officials must lead by example. Nobody is above the law. The idea that he should be exempted because he is carrying classified documents is off the mark,” he said.