Canada to use full-body scanners for U.S. flights

Tue Jan 5, 2010 4:47pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada plans to introduce full-body scanners at all its major international airports to tighten security after the failed attack last month on a U.S.-bound plane, the government said on Tuesday.

The scanners, which see through clothing, will go into nine airports, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, starting this month, and will be used for now only on U.S.-bound flights, officials said.

Passengers will be given a choice between going through the scanners or being subjected to a full-body physical search, Transport Minister John Baird told a news conference in Ottawa.

"I think for many Canadians the idea of going through an electronic machine is far more comfortable and less invasive," Baird told reporters.

Deployment of the new scanning equipment was requested by the United States, but Canada was still talking with Washington to clarify what, if any, additional security measures might be required.

Canada has not decided if it will follow the U.S. lead and require all air travelers from 14 countries deemed to be "state sponsors of terrorism" to undergo additional screening, a Transport Canada spokesman said.

Baird said the government was also studying using security personnel trained to detect behavioral characteristics that would indicate a passenger is a potential security risk.

Baird said Ottawa was aware the tighter security could cause problems for the airline industry, so it was talking with industry officials about the financial impact of the measures.   Continued...