No U.S.-style pat-downs here: Strahl

Travellers coming through Canadian airports won't have to worry that they will face public pat-downs like those happening in the U.S., Transport Minister Chuck Strahl promised Wednesday.

Travellers coming through Canadian airports won't have to worry that they will face public pat-downs like those happening in the U.S., Transport Minister Chuck Strahl promised Wednesday.

Privacy screens and booths are being installed at airports throughout Canada, which will give people the option of being screened in private, Strahl told reporters in Ottawa.

"It's a completely separate system and what you are seeing on YouTube are American examples of pretty provocative pat-downs that [don't] exist in Canada," he said.

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As for the controversial body scanners that, along with the pat-downs, are sparking protest among American travellers, Strahl said Canada uses a different technology than the X-rays used in the U.S.

"A lot of travellers are concerned about the amount of radiation, [but] a different body scanner is here in Canada that actually bounces off the body and doesn't have a concern to the travelling public now," he said.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff cracked up reporters on Parliament Hill when he made this statement when asked about airport security: "If you are in my business, and I have people touching my private parts all day long, all I have to say is, 'That's what you have to do to keep us safe'."

He laughed along with reporters and then said he sympathized with airport workers, who, he said, have a tough job.

Lineups at airports south of the border were smooth despite calls to protest intrusive security measures by insisting on time-consuming pat-downs instead of full-body scans.

It's the busiest time of year for air travel in the U.S., and major delays had been expected. The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration said very few passengers were opting out of the scans, and there were only a few scattered protesters at some airports.