Tool for tracking terror suspects in the skies facing further delays

The Conservative government appears set to miss another target date for delivering a border tracking system that could stop homegrown terrorists from joining battles overseas.

OTTAWA — The Conservative government appears set to miss another target date for delivering a border tracking system that could stop homegrown terrorists from joining battles overseas.

And with just days left in the parliamentary calendar before a fall election, it is unclear when — or even if — the necessary legislative and regulatory changes will come.

Under the Canada-U.S. perimeter security pact, the federal government committed to begin collecting records of people leaving Canada on international flights as of June 30, 2014.

It missed that deadline and would not reveal a new date, saying only that information would be provided in due course.

However, a newly obtained internal briefing note shows federal agencies were eyeing October of this year for completion of the project. The heavily censored May 2014 note, prepared for Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s deputy minister, was released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

It now seems the government will almost certainly miss the revised implementation date, as the required legal and administrative changes remain to be done.

The House of Commons is expected to rise shortly and return some time after a fall general election.

The Canada Border Services Agency, which is leading the project, continues to consult with the federal privacy commissioner, partners and other interested parties on the initiative, said Pierre Deveau, a border agency spokesman.

A final assessment of the project’s implications for the personal information of Canadians will be delivered to the privacy commissioner once the required legislation receives royal assent, “but consultations continue throughout the process,” Deveau said.

A federal report published last year said the government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and suspected of supporting terror-related activities. It said the government was aware of about 80 such people who had returned to Canada.

A border services agency briefing note, released previously under the access law, says information from the planned border tracking system could be provided to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

“This is of particular interest given the recent media attention on Canadians travelling abroad to engage in terrorist activities.”

Citizenship and Immigration says entry and exit information will provide hard data on an individual’s presence in — or absence from — Canada. It plans to use the data in programs where residency and travel history are key, including permanent resident card renewals, grants of citizenship, temporary and permanent resident applications, and investigations into eligibility to hold a Canadian travel document.

For the moment, the tracking system involves exchanging entry information collected from people at the Canada-U.S. land border — so that data on entry to one country serves as a record of exit from the other.

The first two phases of the program have been limited to foreign nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the United States, but not citizens of either country.

The initiative was to be expanded by June 30 of last year to include information-sharing on all travellers crossing the land border.

In addition, Canada planned to begin collecting information on people leaving by plane — something the United States already does — by requiring airlines to submit passenger manifest data for outbound international flights.

Deveau said Canada and the United States “remain dedicated to the full implementation” of the project.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to questions.

Just Posted

The best caesar in Canada can be found in Sylvan Lake

Kjeryn Dakin’s Tragically Hips caesar won the national Best Caesar in Town competition

Family says five found dead after Alberta fire were couple and their grandkids

ROCHFORT BRIDGE, Alta. — The family of five people whose bodies were… Continue reading

Rescue dogs come to Canada in search of forever families

There were dozens of dogs in the back of the van travelling… Continue reading

WATCH: Parkland Garden Centre hosts weekly Craft and Market Sale

A weekly event hosted by the Parkland Nurseries Garden Centre gives Red… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train supports Lacombe Food Bank

Madeline Merlo and JUNO Award nominee Scott Helman both performed

Your community calendar

Friday The Annual Old-Fashioned Country Christmas is being held Dec. 13 at… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault heads to Hollywood to talk carbon and business

LOS ANGELES — After a tumultous legislature session, Quebec Premier Francois Legault… Continue reading

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

OTTAWA — The Conservatives are calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to… Continue reading

Flames edge Kings 4-3 to remain unbeaten under interim head coach Geoff Ward

CALGARY — From his contributions on the scoresheet to his role in… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

Google taps into Montreal’s rich gaming industry for first-party Stadia content

Sebastien Puel has seen Montreal evolve into a game development powerhouse over… Continue reading

Man dead after lengthy standoff with RCMP at home northeast of Calgary

COCHRANE, Alta. — A man in Alberta has died after an officer… Continue reading

Turkey trouble: Quebec village looks to dump wild bird running afoul in town

MONTREAL — In the small Quebec town of St-Prosper-de-Champlain — population 552… Continue reading

Most Read