After a series of investigative reports in the Canwest newspapers in March of this year called attention to the lack of any legal basis under Canadian law for US government access to information about flights to and from Canada that overfly the US (notably including Canada-Cuba flights), the Canadian Conservative minority government has responded by introducing a bill earlier this month that would, if approved by the Canadian Parliament, override Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) to allow the US or any foreign government to find out who is on flights to and from Canada overflying those countries, even if they don’t land in the US.
Canadian law was amended after September 11, 2001, to override PIPEDA and allow US government access to airline reservation data, but only for flights that actually carry passengers to or from the USA. BIll C-42 would extend that to overflights of any country that wants to vet (or simply log) who’s on flights through its airspace.
The sponsors of the latest proposal, Bill C-42, expect it to be controversial, and it has already been criticized by opposition MPs. Opposition parties have united to pass other legislation supported by the minority government related to collaboration with US wars (such as a measure supporting political asylum in Canada for people resisting service in the US military in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that violate Canadian and international law), and some observers predict that could happen with Bill C-42 as well.
We certainly hope that Canadians learn from the mistakes of the USA, stand up for their sovereignty, and say “no” to US surveillance of overflights, just as people in the USA would say “no” if the Cuban government demanded to know who is on the dozens of flights every day that fly over Cuba en route between Miami and South America.