Thursday • 2012.02.02
Transport Canada Caught in Misinformation — Response to Media Contained Embarrassing Error
Transport Canada responded on January 31st to inquiries made by XTRA reporter Andrea Houston regarding the Trans Flight Ban.
In their response, Transport Canada attempted to justify the regulation by claiming it was part of the international standards set by ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation).
The relevant portion of their response reads as follows:
The security of passengers and their baggage is a priority for the Government of Canada. The regulations are the same as before, since they are those of the International Civil Aviation Organization that are in place in all countries.
That response was signed by Maryse Durette, Senior Advisor, Media Relations, Transport Canada. XTRA published this response, along with others received from Transport Canada, in an article on their website.
Note that XTRA used a third-party online document sharing service called ‘Scribd’ to host the response docs from Transport Canada, before posting them on the XTRA site (it works just like embedding a YouTube video).
Some time later, Transport Canada rescinded their response (!) by rather quirky means. The Ministry filed a copyright notice with Scribd, in order to get their own PR department’s response documents removed from the internet.
Scribd decided to honour the copyright complaint, and removed the files (perhaps not considering that publicly released documents which are the product of a federal government ministry are probably in the public domain). Because of the nature of the embedding process, this caused the documents to dissappear simultaneously from the XTRA website. Luckily, XTRA had already copied and has since reposted the letters.
What could Transport Canada’s motivation be for this bizarre attempt to “undo” the release of their initial response, which emphasized ICAO standards?
Could it be because there is no mention whatsoever in ICAO standards about comparing the appearance of a passenger’s gender presentation with the ‘sex’ designation on their ID?
Could it be because the ICAO standard, to which Transport Canada claims adherence is paramount, actually offers a third sex option, “X” for “unspecified,” as laid out in ICAO document 9303 Volume 3, Machine Readable Travel Documents, the standard for passports throughout most of the world? This is also confirmed on the Wikipedia page for Machine Readable Passports.
Some countries, like Australia, are compliant with this standard, offering options of “M,” “F,” and “X.” Canada offers no such option, and is therefore not compliant.
So much for keeping Canada in line with international standards, Mr. Transport Minister.