From the Council of Canadians:
November 8, 2007
Posted by Stuart Trew
The Canadian section of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has filed a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada insisting that Transport Canada’s Marine Transportation Security Clearance Program (MTSCP) and the Application for Transportation Security Clearance form required under the MTSCP violates the Privacy Act.
According to the complaint: “The Security Clearance Form requires responses to invasive questions about a number of matters, including country of origin and city of birth; whether the employee has a passport, and if so, the passport number (leading to the possibility of cross-referencing for additional information); whether the employee attended a post-secondary institution, and if so, which institution and when; all addresses that the employee may have lived at for the past 5 years; all activities for the past 5 years, such as school or previous employment; all travel with stays in countries for more than 90 days during the last 5 years; whether an employee has a criminal conviction; and information about an employee’s spouse.”
Furthermore, “The Security Clearance Form requires the employee to consent to the release of the information contained on the form to governments of countries that he or she may have lived in or travelled to. If consent to disclose is not given, the Security Clearance will not be granted and the employee would not be able to work in designated areas.”
According to an article from Lloyd’s List posted on the Longshore and Warehouse union’s website, “Effective from December 15, security clearances will be required by workers at the container ports of Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver, as well as at the ports of Fraser River and North Fraser River in British Columbia. The regulations will also be applied at the control centres in Canada of the St Lawrence Seaway.”
On top of the privacy complaint, the union is “raising various issues with the Canada Industrial Relations Board at hearings in Vancouver,” said Tom Dufresne, president of the Canadian Maritime Workers Council, speaking with Lloyd’s List. “Dufresne also said the regulations are ‘discriminatory’ against workers not born in Canada.”
The MTSCP is coming into force in Canada as similar new port security measures, including biometric ID cards and fingerprint scanners, are causing anxiety south of the border. The goal of both sets of measures is to streamline port security across North America as spelled out by initiatives within the Security and Prosperity Partnership’s Security Annex. But the result will be more racial profiling, say critics, of which there are plenty.
As University of Toronto professor Deborah Cohen wrote in the Toronto Star last month: “It is not just union leaders who have come out against it. The B.C. Maritime Employers Association, leaders from the cruise ship industry and port security directors from Canada’s largest ports have all critiqued the proposed regulations. Three city councils in the port-dependent province of British Columbia passed motions calling for the federal government to restructure the program, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association recently condemned the potential abuse of civil and labour rights that the program sanctions.”