Security tightened after two U.S.-bound bombs were intercepted in Britain and Dubai
Canada has banned all air cargo originating from Yemen just days after the discovery of two U.S.-bound parcel bombs from that country were stopped in Dubai and Britain.
“I want Canadians to be assured that they will be safe. We’re not going to accept cargo from Yemen,” Transport Minister Chuck Strahl said Monday.
“We’re examining the entire process in concert with our allies around the world.”
While Strahl noted there are no direct flights between Canada and Yemen, he said he wanted to be “absolutely clear” that the “interim measures” would ensure all cargo entering the country was safe and secure.
The precaution will be in place “for as long as it takes to ensure the security of Canadians and air cargo to Canada,” added John Babcock, a spokesman for Strahl.
Britain and Germany have also banned cargo from Yemen following the scare.
American authorities said Monday that the two bombs, hidden inside cargo packages addressed to Chicago synagogues, were meant to destroy the planes carrying them.
“Governments around the world are reacting similarly and, obviously, we have some grave concerns over what happened on the weekend,” Strahl said.
“Public safety (and) security has to come first. … We’re very concerned about that and share those concerns; (we are) working closely with our American counterparts who have taken similar actions,” Chuck Strahl said.
The International Air Transport Association, which represents 230 airlines, including Air Canada and Air Transat, wants tougher measures to monitor cargo security following the incident.
It argues airports shouldn’t be alone in trying to deal with security or terrorism threats. Instead, “supply-chain security” should be implemented long before a package is placed on a plane, said Steve Lott, spokesman for the North American branch of IATA.
“Every group that touches that piece of cargo needs to have responsibility for security, so airlines know no one has tampered with the product. Now we need to look broader, beyond what happens at the airport, because ultimately, the idea here is that the airport shouldn’t be the first line of defence.”
Inspections should take place each time cargo leaves a factory and each time it moves onto a new form of transportation, Lott added.
The IATA will present those arguments at an annual aviation security meeting today, when security heads from various airlines will meet in Frankfurt, Germany.
Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, former chair of the senate committee on national defence, said supply-chain security would be difficult to implement.
“Transport Canada cannot regularly check any goods being shipped; someone is named a secure shipper and that’s it,” he said. “People will take advantage of this and infiltrate these secured shippers.”
Kenny said self-inspection programs should instead be replaced with a third-party organization conducting inspections and auditing cargo shipping.
“You can’t have a system put in place and then forget it. Someone has to check that the system works and the facilities are secure,” he said, suggesting Transport Canada is following a “slack system” with too few bodies to conduct routine inspections.
In May, the federal government announced a $95.7-million investment into the creation of a new Air Cargo Security Program, which would increase inspections and provide sophisticated equipment to scan cargo.
Andre Gerolymatos, a Simon Fraser University professor specializing in security and terrorism, said while he believes Canadian and U.S. airlines share identical screening equipment, he thinks Canadian airports only conduct spot checks on cargo shipments.
He said current Canadian technology used can easily detect common explosives, but new screening equipment and protocols — which would be phased in over the next five years — will “considerably reduce” the risk of moving suspicious packages.