I'd like to speak on a couple of issues that I feel strongly about.
John Taylor is the fifth most common name in North America, and I can assure you, some of them are on the no-fly list. Whenever I go to the airport, it's hard to get through the guards. Now I've learned to overcome the barriers by having, first, a frequent flyer plan so that they can go back and check to see if I'm the right person. Secondly, I use my father's first name as my middle name on the ticket, and it's very unusual, so that I stand out and I don't look like all those other people on the no-fly list.
I often wonder, how do they make up that list? Everything I've read in the papers on it has said, well, that's a big secret. “The U.S. doesn't release that information, and we use their lists automatically because so many of our flights go into the U.S.”
It gets to be a real serious problem when you start thinking about who the U.S. would put on there. First of all, I guess it's anyone who's committed a felony, which would be half of the black males in the U.S. Many of them get arrested because, in most of the southern states, anyone with a felony record cannot vote. We're sort of perpetuating that by honouring it. I think there's a moral issue involved in that.
I often wonder about our own first nations people. Are they affected by the no-fly list? Many of them, maybe in their youth, may have been arrested or been charged. We've read reports that they outnumber just about everyone else in our prison system.
I feel uncomfortable with a no-fly list. I wish there was some way that it could be cleaned up, and that there would be an appeal. We could hire a lawyer to go in there and find out just exactly why we're on it and what the problem is, and that sort of thing. Apparently, nothing can be done under the present system, both in the U.S. and in Canada.
The second issue that I'm concerned about is the lack of accountability, supervision, of these big spy agencies. We have the example of the FBI in the U.S., which was under the control of J. Edgar Hoover for most of his lifetime. His tactic to keep control was to spy on all elected members of Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and such, so that he never had any problem getting his budget increased every year. Anyone who came up with ideas of a reform was immediately shown their file. He had complete details on the things that they didn't want revealed about them, that they'd rather not let the public know.
It looks like we could run into that position, if the U.S. is any indication that it can be done. I would say we have only a couple of years to put those accountability issues into place to protect Parliament and the population at large. Such a system can be very abused when it's basically an alternative government. A very powerful individual has the goods on everyone.
I think that's a major issue that we have to deal with, not because of what everyone else has been talking about, the accountability, the proper subpoenas, and things like that, but simply as a matter of self-preservation for our country. Thank you.