'He didn't pull a Helena apparently' - Macleans.ca

‘He didn’t pull a Helena apparently’

Jean-Pierre Blackburn has it out with airport security over a bottle of tequila


Late breaking news this evening that the Veteran Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn recently demonstrated an interest in airport security protocol.

Blackburn wanted to bypass a rule that all Canadians must follow: You cannot pack containers filled with more than 100 millilitres of liquid. When security at the Ottawa airport told Blackburn he would have to give up his bottle of tequila, sources say he asked that the bottle be kept for him. When security refused, he demanded that they empty the bottle in his presence. Sources told CTV News the argument became so heated, security almost called the police…

“The minister wasn’t pleased by the fact he had to leave the bottle of alcohol behind. He was upset that they wouldn’t destroy it in front of him,” the official said, on condition of anonymity. “He remained polite. He didn’t pull a Helena apparently.”


‘He didn’t pull a Helena apparently’

  1. typical.

  2. Was he afraid what would happen if he didn't deliver it to…


  3. After Harper leaves office, we'll hear many stories like this. Road rage too :-)

    • Can we make that very very soon?
      Harper leaving office part.

  4. I love the part where it is noted that Harper has had to send an edict to his cabinet minsters that they are not above the law.

    But if Harper is having to tell them they are not above the law, who tells Harper that neither is he.

    I guess that would be the Speaker, coming to a point of privilege decision near you.

  5. Why on earth is this considered news?

    • It's news because cabinet ministers play an important role in canadian politics and when they misbehave people should know about it

    • Welcome to Wherry's World.

      • Actually, it's more like: 'welcome to our world, Minister Blackburn. Hope you enjoyed it while you visited.'

        • The alliteration is better in my version.

        • 'welcome to our world, Minister Blackburn, right after airport security gives you a full body scan,
          mind looking at these top secret documents on national security!!

          give the MPs speed passes,
          they are not a security risk for gawd's sake

          • I don't know. According to Harper, aren't the opposition a bunch of Taliban sympathizers? Maybe just the Conservatives should get free passes.

    • I'm sorry Johnny, but in the last 3 months security for air travel become excruciating for passengers. It has cost taxpayer money, likely cost this country millions in lost productivity (hundreds of millions?). Any sane person would would rightly question the effectiveness of the new security procedures.

      So guess what: It's news that TWO Ministers of the Crown in the period of a month have either not understood the measures or been so frustrated about them that they resisted to comply ing both instances.

      As a frequent traveleer, I am not angry with either (although HG's beahviour was over the line), but am hopeful that it will help reverse the trend of idiotic security procedures which I believe are all for show and totally lack substance.

      • IF the stories had been framed that way I might agree with you. And Guergis deserved the coverage she got, at least up until the point that media outlets started running stories questioning her MBA.

        But they aren't framed that way, and this is different. This is just CTV, the supposed water carriers for the Conservative party, practicing the same old gotcha journalism that is as tiresome as the politicians they are playing "gotcha" with.

        No-one at CTV, or any other mainstream news organization, would have the balls to run a one month old, reported-by-anonymous-sources-after-the-fact story like this if the "perpetrator" happened to be a Liberal.

        • All your points are valid, except for the last one. In case you haven't noticed, CTV doesn't really care who they do this to. And Taber (CTV host , Globe columnist) constantly quotes unnamed sources that rip the Liberals to shreds.

    • Because airport security almost called the police on a Cabinet Minister. I don't know about you, but I've never had airport security almost call the police on me. But then, I'm nice.

    • Because airport security almost called the police on a Cabinet Minister. I don't know about you, but I've never had airport security almost call the police on me. But then, I'm nice.

  6. Well, a cabinet minister said something where someone else could hear it. That's news.

  7. Hey, cabinet members are entitled to their entitlements.

    (It isn't policy that contraband necessarily has to be destroyed in front of passengers, right?)

  8. Was the bottle in question duty-free? Canadian Cabinet Ministers should pay their taxes!

  9. I hate the stringent customs restrictions when it comes to booze. But this isn't the issue, correct?
    Was he trying to bring it with him (carry-on)? Not a fan of waiting for baggage claim?

  10. I just have never worried that any MP or Minister of the Canadian Governement has a bomb in their underwear,
    it's just stupid that MPs are not given speed passes.

    • What about the NDP. They're commies, right?

      • True, but if we take that into account then we also have to acknowledge that the BQ are traitors, the Liberals are scurrilous rats, and the Conservatives are imbeciles. We'd have to comb through all their luggage.

        Best to just ignore it and treat them like everyone else.

    • Lots of MPs, (I'll use John Baird and Maria Minna to be biparitsan) are way more likely to go off the deep end than me. They should be doublechecked.

      • LOL. Yes, they should lead by example and do the full body-scan, strip search, luggage sifting – twice, in front of everyone; ideally with cameras on.

  11. The next terrorist attack won't be over terrorism. It'll be a disgruntled traveller told they have to surrender a bottle of Dasani.

  12. I imagine that stories like this one wouldn't have been considered newsworthy a generation ago.

    • Yeah, electronic screening before boarding the stage coach. So steampunk.

    • A generation? Stories like this wouldn't have been newsworthy one government ago.

      • Er, see 'McCallum, John'.

        • Oh trust me…I did.

          Note the contrast.

    • The hyper-moralistc, anti-entitlement rallying cry of 2005 Team Harper has pretty much guaranteed that any such transgressions against their supposed values structure becomes automatically newsworthy.

    • To me it is newsworthy but I wish it were under the headline "Even Government MPs think the airport security rules are stupid".

    • True. But i's not easy to fill the entire modern 24 hour news cycle with stories that are important. We need some of this kind of stuff to make sure pundits don't start publicly contimplating their navels.

  13. Interesting that a government 'official' would use the terminology 'pull a Helena', not exactly respectful reference to a cabinet minister.

    The hints to her seem to be getting more overt.

  14. "Sources told CTV News the argument became so heated, security almost called the police…"

    That's why it's newsworthy, folks. Pay attention.

    • “He remained polite. He didn't pull a Helena apparently.”

      So now even polite disagreements with airport security get splashed on the front pages?

      Why did these undoubtedly-reputable-even-though-they-are-anonymous "sources" only come to CTV News just now, almost one month after the discussion occurred? Why not the day of the incident?

  15. Actually, I think Mr. Blackburn should be complaining about absolutely stupid, ineffective and illogical rules for airport security these days.
    I'm assuming Mr. Blackburn purchased his bottle at duty free in Ottawa Airport. To do that, he would have to produce a boarding pass to show he is flying out of Canadian airspace – but – if he was and he did – then his bottle would have been passed from duty free to flight crew. On incoming international flights – you are given your bottles as you board!
    Of course, IF Mr. Blackburn made a purchase at duty free, and was NOT leaving Canada – I think Border Services might have a much bigger issue with him!

    • Actually, he's government made them…and he personally sent out the press release

      "It now turns out that the Minister's brazen disregard for air safety regulations would violate the very same air security rules that he announced in his capacity as a government minister on May 5, 2009, when he rolled out investments in support of the initiation of airport security plans"

    • Duty-free in the Ottawa Airport is inside security. He brought the tequila with him to the airport. Why he didn't just check his bag is beyond me.

      • Was the bottle half empty? That could explain it… tequila is a hell of a drink

      • Haven't been to the new airport much, but my experience in other airports has been that in transferring between international and domestic wings one may be screened a second time. For example, in flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco, and then San Francisco to Calgary, if you don't quickly take the time to put duty free alcohol purchased in the Hong Kong airport and check it (given that you have recover your checked baggage and then recheck it), you lose the alcohol despite it never having been out of the secure zone. In Portland, same experience, even though our bags were checked all the way through.

  16. "If I can't have it I'll see it destroyed," kind of sounds like Stephen Harper's plan for Canada.

  17. They will only stop this nonsense at airport security when enough "important" people get pissed off at the pointless inconvenience that it imposes.

  18. So here we have another Harperite abusing the system, and we hear their fearless leader saying they want airport security, but only for those lesser than our ruling Cons… rules are not for these Con elected officials, like Helena as well. Pity the poor security people at airports who have to deal with these privileged Harper MP's. Guess that is one time Harper did not provide them with the right script, they were speaking without a script? When they cannot speak in Parliament it must boil over onto others, hence any authority would cause them to erupt, so much for muzzling your Pm's Mr. Harper.

  19. Wasn't he the minister that announced the new restrictions in the first place? Short term memory issues I guess… tequila is a hell of a drink

  20. I wept when they confiscated my Colgate toothpaste from Singapore. 150 ml down the drain — plus, I had to go smelly-breathed on my flight from Vancouver to Toronto. Oh, the humanity!

  21. Great non-story. I'm surprised we didn't see it on the CBC or in the Star.

    Congratulations Mr. Wherry…..I guess this constitues a scoop where you come from eh?

    You must be very proud……..exposing this type of hooliganism.

    • Actually, Aaron just posted a link to a story that was broken by CTV. He never claimed it was his scoop.

      But way to vent!

  22. Though the Minister's behaviour is unacceptable, he does raise a valid point. A sealed bottle of liquid is still private property. Thus, if airport security must confiscate your property for the purpose of safety, it should offer the owner the ability to witness its disposal. Otherwise, the action closely resembles theft. However, one must also consider the other side of the coin and the logistics of implementing such procedures. I would posit that the majority of individuals would abhor the delay in passing security and simply pass over their bottle / liquid with only minor irritations. Nonetheless, the point still stands – the item is private property and should be treated as such.

    • The searches conducted at security screening checkpoints are voluntary. If one does not consent to a search of his person or carry-on baggage, then he cannot pass into the restricted area. Likewise, prohibited items are not confiscated; they are voluntarily relinquished as a condition of passing through the security screening checkpoint. Suggesting that it is akin to theft is absurd. Coldcanuk (as well as many others) seem to feel that travelling is a right.