Economy

Canadian Innovation Minister asked to remove turban at Detroit airport

Canadian Innovation Minister asked to remove turban at Detroit airport

Navdeep Bains, the country's minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, described the incident in an interview with the French-language paper La Presse on Thursday.

Since 2007, the TSA has allowed Sikhs to keep turbans on when passing through security at airports.

The incident caused a minor diplomatic scuffle, prompting Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to contact USA officials, who apologised over the phone, according to CBC.

Bains said the episode occurred while he was returning to Toronto in April 2017 after an economic meeting with Michigan's governor and Ohio's lieutenant governor.

"I never told them who I was, because I wanted to know how things would go for people who are not ministers or lawmakers", he told the newspaper.

The politician said he chose to talk of the matter publicly because "discrimination happens with many people, and I'm in a very fortunate position to talk about it".

Bains then proceeded to the boarding area and was there for about 20 minutes before Transportation Security Administration officers reappeared.

Following this, the security officials asked him for his identification.

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"I told him it was the machine that was not working well", he told La Presse.

"I politely replied that I did not represent a security threat, and that I had passed all security checks".

Later after knowing his identity, Bains was allowed to go.

Bains added that he has traveled to the US on many occasions and he has never been asked to remove his turban before. That is when a security official asked him to remove his turban for inspection. But upon learning of my diplomatic status, they told me that everything is fine.

Bains, who is of the Sikh religion, says wearing a turban is "one of the most dutiful acts for a person of the faith". That's not a satisfactory response, ' he said.

In a statement to CBC, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration said it reviewed closed-circuit video of the incident and determined the officer did not follow standard operating procedures; the officer subsequently received additional training.

USA officials have issued an apology to the Canadian Minister.

"We regret the screening experience did not meet the expectations of Mr. Bains", he wrote in an email to news agencies. He said passengers who are unwilling to remove headwear for religious, medical or other reasons should expect to undergo additional screenings, which may include officer-conducted or self-conducted pat-downs.