Air Canada Apologizes for Questioning a British Lawmaker About His Background

Air Canada Apologizes for Questioning a British Lawmaker About His | ltc-a

Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada, has apologized to a British lawmaker, Mohammad Yasin, after lawmakers said Mr. Yasin was singled out for questioning because of his name and background on a recent official trip to the country.

Pablo Rodríguez, the Canadian transport minister, told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday that his office had contacted the airline about the screening. “We called Air Canada and Air Canada apologized,” Mr. Rodríguez said, “and apologizing was the right thing to do.”

Mr. Yasin, a member of Parliament for the Labour Party, has represented the constituency of Bedford in eastern England since 2017. While leaving for a trip to Canada with other lawmakers last week, he said, he was questioned vigorously at Heathrow Airport near London.

Details of the questioning emerged on Monday when one of Mr. Yasin’s colleagues, Clive Betts, said in remarks to Parliament that Mr. Yasin was the only lawmaker in the group delayed for questioning by officials who they believed worked for Air Canada and the Canadian government.

“He was told that this was because his name is Mohammad,” Mr. Betts said. “He was asked whether he was carrying a knife or other offensive weapon. He was also asked where he was born.”

In a statement emailed to The New York Times, Mr. Yasin said, “It was stressful and humiliating to be singled out in such an aggressive way by immigration control.” His office did not share additional details about the encounter.

Mr. Yasin, who had already provided the requisite forms to enter Canada, according to Mr. Betts, was eventually allowed to board the flight after the questioning. But upon arriving in Montreal, and again before departing Toronto on the way home, he faced additional roadblocks, according to Mr. Betts, who called the treatment “completely unacceptable.”

While officials from Air Canada and the country’s immigration department had apologized, Mr. Betts said on Monday that “given the racist and Islamophobic nature” of the encounter, he was raising the matter in Parliament and planning to write to the Canadian high commissioner in London.

Air Canada said in a statement that it had apologized for the “discomfort” the screening had caused, adding that Mr. Yasin had been cleared to board his flight to Canada. For the lawmaker’s return flight, the statement added, officials had met with him to ensure he boarded without issue.

A spokeswoman for Canada’s ministry of immigration said on Thursday that an official from the ministry had conveyed his dismay to Mr. Yasin and apologized for frustrations about the situation.

But it was unclear who requested the additional screening.

Air Canada said it had been prompted by an “authorized government agency” to further screen Mr. Yasin and had followed the “prescribed procedures.” The airline declined to disclose the agency but said that a variety of government agencies at home and abroad could order such screenings. The Canada Border Services Agency declined to comment, citing privacy reasons.

When reached by phone, Mr. Yasin’s office declined to comment further.

“While I don’t expect special treatment as a member of Parliament,” he said in his earlier statement, “it does concern me that had I not been an M.P., how much worse the experience might have been.”