Mystery shrouds new air security measures

OTTAWA — The federal government has imposed new airline security measures on certain Canada-bound flights, but it provided precious few details Tuesday, citing a need for secrecy.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau made the announcement after the government’s weekly cabinet meeting.

Garneau said the measures — in place until further notice — would ensure greater security on flights coming to Canada “from certain countries,” but he added little else.

The National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents major carriers including Air Canada, had no immediate comment.

The federal decision comes after the U.S. and Britain moved last month to bar certain electronic devices from airline cabins on flights originating from some countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Canada has not followed suit on that measure and Garneau said such devices continue to be permitted in airline cabins.

The latest decision is based on the government’s “evaluation of risk,” he said.

“I’m not in a position to tell you from where for obvious security reasons, and I’m not in a position to tell you specifically the measures either, and you will understand that for security reasons we don’t talk about these things, but we have, following our analysis, put in place additional measures.”

Garneau noted that similar measures have been imposed in past years on flights from other continents.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the move was based on evidence, but offered no details. He did not answer directly when asked if the measures were prompted by a specific threat.

“We take all the necessary precautions to make sure that Canadians are kept safe in all of their activities, both within the country and travel around the world,” he said.

“We don’t take steps in a capricious way. Canadians need to be assured that everything that needs to be done to safeguard their safety and the safety of air travel is in fact being done.”

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