Privacy commissioner ordered to testify at Air India inquiry
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | 1:35 PM PT
The head of the Air India inquiry issued a subpoena to the privacy commissioner on Wednesday after she gave a media interview criticizing a no-fly list being implemented later this month.
"She apparently had no hesitation in giving information to the public … that should have properly been given to this commission," a clearly disgruntled John Major said Wednesday.
Privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart commented last week on previous inquiry testimony about the implementation on June 18 of a Canadian no-fly list.
Stoddart had previously told the commission she had nothing to add to information her office had already provided to the commission, Major said.
In what Major called "Ms Stoddart's free-wheeling press interview," she suggested the list could become a nightmare for ordinary Canadians, who could end up being challenged every time they fly.
The inquiry heard earlier that the names of Canadians on the forthcoming federal list could end up in the hands of foreign governments, whether or not Ottawa gives its official consent to sharing the information.
Under the new rules, all travellers 12 and older on flights within Canada, departing from Canada or destined for Canada must show valid photo identification, or two pieces of other ID — including one that shows date of birth, name and gender — before they will be issued boarding passes.
The inquiry, under former Supreme Court justice Major, is investigating the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182. The bomb, planted in the baggage hold by Sikh terrorists based in British Columbia, exploded off the coast of Ireland. All 329 people aboard were killed.
Evolving terrorist tactics
Part of the inquiry's mandate is to take a wider look at evolving terrorist tactics, and the need to reform security practices to prevent another attack.
Kris Klein, counsel for the privacy commissioner, said Wednesday afternoon that the subpoena hadn't officially been served yet and insisted it wasn't really necessary.
Stoddart and other officials in her office are "prepared to co-operate in any way (Major) wants us to," Klein said in an interview with the Canadian Press. Stoddart was en route to Beijing on business and couldn't be reached.
As the inquiry resumed Wednesday after a week-long break, Major also issued a subpoena requiring representatives of the International Air Transport Association to appear before him.
Officials from the IATA, which represents airlines, had said they would prefer not to testify and would send a written statement.
But last week, IATA chief executive officer Giovanni Bisignani talked to reporters about international aviation security since September 11, 2001 — exactly what Major said he wanted to hear at the inquiry.
Steve Lott, a spokesman for IATA, attributed the dispute to a "misunderstanding" and said the organization was now ready to be "fully co-operative."With files from the Canadian Press
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