Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Canadian Minister "Uncomfortable" After Being Told To Remove Turban At US Airport

Navdeep Singh Bains Innovation Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Singh Bains rises in the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS Adrian WyldMore
Patty Aguilar | 11 May, 2018, 05:31

Canadian Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said airport officials in Detroit subjected him to discriminatory screening for wearing a turban as required by Sikhism.

"Ultimately, from my point of view, this is about the fact that discrimination really knows no borders", Bains said Thursday in a phone interview from Toronto.

"He told me: 'You have to take off your turban.' I responded politely that it was not a security threat and that I had passed all the security controls".

Bains said that when he travels, he rarely discloses his identity as a cabinet minister, in order to better understand the travel experiences - and frustrations - of people not afforded similar privileges.

He said there were challenges with the swab machine and he was recalled from the gate and brought back to security where he was asked to take the turban off.

"My hope is now that I'm talking about this, now this has come to public light, that we can avoid these type of instances going forward", he said.

"I will never be asked to take off my clothes".

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U.S. authorities have apologized for the incident, which occurred while Bains was returning to Canada after meeting Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other officials in 2017.

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. He has accepted the apology.

Ottawa verbally protested to Washington over the incident, and received an apology. She said her officials raised the issue with their American counterparts.

"We regret the screening experience did not meet the expectations of Mr. Bains", he wrote in an email to news agencies.

But the minister says his position should not have mattered and that procedures were not followed properly in the incident.

Rather than declare his ministerial status, Bains said he prefers to watch things unfold as they would as an ordinary citizen in the same situation.

"Only in a few cases it may be because of some kind of intolerance or personal bias but I think normally it's a lack of awareness and we need to be more proactive to create more awareness".

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