Canada: Government worries over security concerns surrounding passport offices

Image: Canadian Passport

Canada: Government worries over security concerns surrounding passport offices

India Blooms News Service

#Terrorism, # Canada, # ServiceCanada, # PassportOffices, # Employment and Social Development, # ESDC, # DanielLang

Toronto, Apr 26 (IBNS): The Federal Government of Canada has been making changes to the passport offices on the security front as they believe these centres can be soft targets for attacks, especially by disgruntled people whose official document to travel abroad may have been revoked, media reported.

Internal documents obtained by the Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act revealed the concern, media reports said.

The two separate domestic terrorist attacks in October 2014 also fuelled the concerns.

According to media reports, in the first case, Martin Couture-Rouleau's passport was seized after police prevented him from flying to Turkey and in the second case, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had run into trouble trying to obtain a passport to travel to Libya.

The chairman of the Senate’s national security committee, which was studying terrorist threats to Canada, said that keeping passport offices secure was key to keep people safe in public spaces.

Conservative Sen. Daniel Lang said he has been able to identify 60 individuals left Canada for abroad to join a terrorist group, according to media reports.

Nearly 218 counter-terrorism targets in Canada had been tracked by the country’s spy agency, added Lang.

“Some of these individuals … mean to cause significant harm and even mass murder. More must be done to secure public spaces including passport offices, Service Canada offices, airport entry areas, bus terminals, and rail stations from terrorist elements,” Lang  was quoted by CityNews as saying.

According to a representative of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which oversees the 151 Service Canada offices that issue passports, said these offices needed both physical and operational changes to minimize the risk of an attack.

There were proposals of extending Canadian passport holders’ renewal period from five year to ten years.

Canadians were also encouraged to renew their passports online to reduce the traffic of people in the passport office.

(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)

Canada: Government worries over security concerns surrounding passport offices

India Blooms News Service
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