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Canada eyes its own electronics ban

Canadian authorities are considering following the lead of the U.S. and the U.K. on flights from the Middle East

Canada may join in on the electronics ban for flights from the Middle East

Canada is contemplating drafting its own electronics ban for a list of Muslim-majority countries after the United Kingdom and the United States forbade laptops and tablets from being carried on to most flights coming from many countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The U.S. electronics ban covers only foreign airlines flying out of Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The UK ban adds Lebanon and Tunisia to the list, but does not include Qatar, Morocco, Kuwait, or the UAE. It also extends to domestic airlines.

Washington has said intelligence regarding a planned attack informed their plans, and Canada is listening.

“I was in conversation with [Homeland Security] Secretary Kelly yesterday, and again just moments ago,” said Canadian Transportation Minister Marc Garneau on Tuesday. “He made us aware of the situation that we are analyzing very carefully.”

“[Secretary Kelly] made us aware of the situation that we are analyzing very carefully.”

Garneau says Canada is still going over the intelligence but told reporters: “We will make a decision.” He wouldn’t provide a timeline. Canadian security regulations, especially when it comes to air travel, are usually lined up with the U.S., U.K., and European Union.

Downing Street, meanwhile, has remained vague about the rationale behind its move.

“We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimize any impact,” reads a statement from the U.K. government. “Our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals.”

The actual utility of this sort of ban remains unclear, as the electronics will still be allowed on the plane — but they’ll have to be stowed in checked luggage. The directive obviously harkens to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, which targeted several of the countries singled-out by this policy. Having London and, possibly, Ottawa sign onto the measures would bolster Washington’s claim that the policy is in direct response to the current “threat picture,” as the Department of Homeland Security puts it.

Asked by VICE News what use this sort of ban would have, Garneau wouldn’t say.

“What I will tell you is that as a country that takes the security side of transportation very seriously, it is our duty, and our obligation basically, to look at in detail information that has been provided to us by other intelligence communities. And we will do that.”

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said “we have reason to be concerned about attempts by terrorist groups to circumvent aviation security and terrorist groups continue to target aviation interests. Implementing additional security measures enhances our ability to mitigate further attempts against the overseas aviation industry.”

Cover: Kate Munsch/Reuters

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