Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Safety of Air Travel in Canada

Here is a letter I recently sent to the Canadian Minister of Transport, who is responsible for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. I also copied it to several other Members of Parliament, as I feel it is an important issue.

To: Hon. Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport

Re: Safety of Air Travel in Canada

CC: Right Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister;
Hon. Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety;
Sylvie Boucher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister;
Jason Kenny, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister;
Brian Jean, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport;
Dave MacKenzie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety;
Hon. Robert Nicholson, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons;
Hon. Stéphane Dion , Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada;
Michael Ignatieff, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party;
Hon. Ralph Goodale, House Leader of the Liberal Party;
David McGuinty, Liberal Transport Critic;
Hon. Irwin Cotler, Liberal Public Safety Critic;
Gilles Duceppe , Leader of the Bloc Québécois;
Robert Carrier, Bloc Québécois Transport Critic;
Serge Ménard, Bloc Québécois Public Safety Critic;
Hon. Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party;
Peter Julian, NDP Transport Critic;
Joe Comartin, NDP Public Safety Critic;
Libby Davies, NDP House Leader;
John Cannis, MP Scarborough Centre.

Dear Mr. Cannon,

I am writing to you to express my feelings about the fantastic work that your department, particularly the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority does on behalf of Canadians. I have copied this message to relevant members of all four parties represented in the House of Commons, as I believe it is very important that they all know about the wonderful job that is being done to protect Canadian air travelers.

My wife and I travel frequently across Canada by air, and have been very impressed by what we have seen over and over again in airports across this country. These are difficult times in which to maintain airport security, but your department's policies ensure safety and security for all travelers.

I have been particularly impressed by the methods used to protect us since the terrorist scare in the UK in August. The banning of liquids and gels in carry-on luggage was the right move to ensure that explosives are not carried onto aircraft. Then, after the scare became less immediate, the new rules to lessen the restrictions on liquids and gels were well conceived and flawlessly executed.

What I am most impressed with is the way liquids and gels are handled by airport security staff when they find them in carry-on baggage. For instance, I was traveling with my 22 month-old son recently, and forgot that there was baby skin cream in his diaper bag. Rather than simply discard of this important parenting tool, the security guard placed it into a Ziploc bag, sealed it and handed it back to me, reminding me to not open the bag until after I was off the plane.

Of course I was thankful to have it back, because after purchasing an airline ticket for a domestic flight in Canada, I did not have enough money to replace the cream if it had been discarded.

Whoever thought of this fantastic way to deal with liquids and gels on airplanes was really thinking "outside the box" and deserves a great Christmas bonus this year.

Now, to be honest, I have heard some Canadians criticize this technique, calling it "an insult to the intelligence of Canadians", but clearly those people are freedom-hating terrorist lovers. I heard one person laugh and say "what's to stop someone from opening the bag during their flight to get at their explosive liquid or gel?" to which I answered "Pay attention! The security guard SAID to leave it sealed inside the bag until you get off the plane!"

I even heard somebody say that the sales team at S.C. Johnson must be laughing all the way to the bank, after convincing the Canadian Government to stock up on millions of Ziploc Bags for all of the shaving cream, shampoo and mascara in everyone's carry-on bags. I hope so. They deserve all of the accolades they are getting in the boardroom, because who knows how many Canadian lives those sales representatives have saved with their brilliant idea?

My only concern with the policy is that there needs to be a way at the passenger's destination for people to get information about how to get into the bags to retrieve their items. I forgot to get the combination or key to unlock these secure bags, and when I call the airport, nobody seems to be able to help me. As I mentioned, I cannot afford to buy new skin cream for my son, and at this time of year, the skin on his legs is getting very dry and is very uncomfortable for him. Can you direct me to a website where I can find directions for opening this high-tech security device?

Thank you for your help on this matter, and thank you on behalf of all Canadians for keeping our skies safe.

Happy Holidays,

Lloyd Ravn
Scarborough, ON

I'll let you know if I get any kind of response.


Brooks said...

Oh my. You are gonna end up spending Christmas in the clink!! The sandwich bag idea gets me too. Put your explosives in a bag, so you can find them easier in your carry on luggage.

Anonymous said...

Oh that's beautiful! And one thing I've observed in my Ziploc handling... It's WAY easy to open, but a real mo-fo to CLOSE.

Cari said...

Sorry, not anonymous - it's your Myspace buddy - NewmarketCari!