When airport security goes a mile too far - Macleans.ca

When airport security goes a mile too far

One very long delay at the airport


If you land on Canada’s “no-fly list,” good luck getting off. Just ask Hani Al Telbani. Five years after the Palestinian immigrant was famously denied a boarding pass at Montreal’s Trudeau airport, he is still fighting in court to clear his name and get on a plane.

Dino Peles is not a member of the no-fly club. But like Telbani, the 31-year-old Air Canada baggage handler has learned the same hard lesson: once Transport Canada declares you a potential danger, it’s almost impossible to change anyone’s mind—criminal record or no criminal record.

Like thousands of airline employees who work in restricted areas, Peles was issued a “transportation security clearance” in 2006 for his job at Toronto’s Pearson airport. But in 2011, when his file was due for a mandatory review, the feds noticed two blemishes, both related to marijuana. (In 2009, police found Peles in a parked car with $2,500 in cash and nearly $5,000 worth of weed; eight months later, authorities again charged him with possession for the purpose of trafficking after finding more illicit drugs in his vehicle.)

In both cases, charges were either dropped or withdrawn, leaving Peles with a technically clean record. Still, a Transport Canada advisory board erred on the side of caution, recommending that his security clearance be revoked because his past behaviour—conviction or not—suggests “he may be prone or induced to commit an act or assist or abet any person to commit an act that may unlawfully interfere with civil aviation.”

Peles appealed to the Federal Court (in one letter of support, a supervisor praised his “high integrity” and called him “an asset to the company”) but Justice Michael Manson sided with the government. The bright side? As the judge pointed out, Peles is still free “to work in non-secure areas or outside the airport.”


When airport security goes a mile too far

  1. The incorrect No Fly List thing is a problem.

    The weed guy not being able to work in highly secure areas of the airport is absolutely not. He doesn’t have the RIGHT to work there. If there are questions about criminal behavior, then they should shift him to less-secure areas of the airport (and if he is convicted of a felony, he should be fired from the airport….)

  2. If Peles does not have any more common sense than to be caught not once, but twice, with marijuana, then it is reasonable to conclude that he can’t be trusted within a secure zone at an airport.

    Peles could argue that he has no criminal record, and that is correct. However, he did not deny the circumstances surrounding the marijuana charges. After all, whether you agree with the marijuana laws or not, said laws are still in place and Peles apparently ignored them. Is he prepared to ignore other laws, as well? If so, how many security-related laws is he prepared to break before someone else pays the price for his lack of common sense?
    So he can’t be a baggage handler. Big deal. He should just suck it up and be glad he’s not in jail with a criminal record.