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False Positive at US Airport Sparks Trouble for Canadian

13 May 2018
False Positive at US Airport Sparks Trouble for Canadian

USA security officials have apologised after a Sikh minister of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Cabinet was asked to remove his turban at a United States airport before boarding a flight previous year.

Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, who's religiously obligated to wear a turban as a Sikh, publicly discussed the April 2017 incident on Thursday, saying the incident at Detroit Metro Airport following a meeting with the MI governor highlights the "discrimination" some travelers encounter, per the CBC.

In 2007, the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration revised its screening process for people who travel with headwear, such as turbans.

Bain's office said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland reached out to US officials and the undersecretaries for the Homeland Security and Transportation departments apologized verbally.

The incident came to light on Thursday from an article in the French-language La Presse news website, which Bains said resulted from them "asking about some of the challenges and issues that I faced and in that discussion my story emerged".

He added: "I never told them who I was [till then], because I wanted to know how things would go for people who are not ministers or lawmakers".

While Bains, as a member of federal cabinet, carries a special diplomatic passport, his office said he did not use his status or show the passport until he was asked by a supervisor to confirm his identity.

The security personnel then realized he was a Canadian cabinet minister and allowed him to proceed.

"I told him it was the machine that was not working well", he told La Presse. He told the security personnel that he had cleared the security checks and the turban was not a threat.

"I will never be asked to take off my clothes. That's not a satisfactory response", Bains was quoted as saying by Guardian.

TSA spokesman Mike England told HuffPost that the department reviewed closed-circuit video of the episode and determined that the agent conducting the screening did not follow standard operating procedures. He told reported in Toronto, that he had already made it to his gate and was ready to board his flight when he was approached and asked to remove the turban. "I thought that was important for us to support Minister Bains and frankly, to support all Canadians traveling across the border". England added that the agent has since received additional training.

"This policy covers all headwear and is not directed at any one particular item or group", he said.