Monday, March 22, 2010

Blackburn’s tequila tempest: Exposing the contradictions of airport security regulations

In Conservative Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn’s altercation with airport security staff in Ottawa, when told airport security regulations on liquids prevented him from bringing his bottle of tequila onboard, he reportedly demanded the bottle be poured-out on his presence. I guess he feared the CATSA staff would be having a little fiesta at his expense. The request was refused, which likely incensed him further. (Although he himself helped bring us these rules.)

Blackburn’s request was rightly refused, though, and it was his second attempted skirting of our country’s asinine airport security rules. And it exposes just how stupid, and useless, those rules are.

We’re not allowed to bring liquids onboard because of the fear liquid explosives could be disguised as, say, a bottle of tequila, and used to bring down a plane. So we’re restricted to a small amount, containers of 100ml, confined to a one quart zip-lock bag. This is supposed to make us feel safer. It ignores, of course, the scenario of two or more people each bringing in their own bags, then meeting and combining them post-security. It’s bureaucracy masquerading as security, and we’re supposed to just ignore the fact it’s all a sham.

In the name of making us “feel” safer though, no bottles of water, juice, or tequila. Here’s the thing though. Blackburn wanted his tequila poured-out in his presence; no fiestas on his dime. That couldn’t happen though because, in theory, that tequila, or your Evian or my Coke Zero, is a possible liquid explosive.

Now, if you follow the illogic that I can’t bring my cola on because it might be an explosive, then every confiscated bottle should be treated as a possible explosive: carted off in a bomb-proof container and destroyed safely. Does that happen though? Of course not. It would be prohibitively expensive and cumbersome and, besides, we all really know your Evian is just water and Blackburn’s tequila is just booze. His fear they’d take his bottle home and have a party likely isn’t unfounded. I recall reading many confiscated contraband is also donated.

It’s all a farce. It’s a farce that regular Canadians have to deal with every day. While the both handled it very, very poorly, Blackburn and Helena Guergis simply saw front-hand the mess that successive governments have made of air travel in this country.

Unlike you or I though, they’re both in a position to reform the rules and bring a degree of sanity to our airports. Perhaps their experiences will spur them to act.

In the meantime, leave the tequila at home.

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1 comment:

Canajun said...

Hear, hear!

I travelled by air extensively both before and after 9/11, and I can honestly say that I have not felt any more or less safe as a result of all the nonsense the authorities have put in place. I just feel more aggravated.

Sadly as long as Homeland Security controls the US political agenda, we're going to be stuck with this time and money-wasting farce.