TORONTO: Canadian cabinet Navdeep Bains was subjected to a discriminatory security check at a US airport last year when he was asked to remove his turban just before boarding a flight.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains said he was asked to remove his turban at Detroit Metro Airport on his way back to Canada last year. 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. He added that when they realised who he was, they allowed him to travel and not take it off.
Bain had complained about the incident to Canada's foreign minister who had lodged an official complaint to the US officials. The US officials expressed regret and apologised for the behaviour and he's accepted the apology.
Bains was flying back to Canada after a meeting in April 2017 with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor when the incident took place.
Recalling the incident, Bains was quoted as saying "It was an awkward experience." He also told the Quebec newspaper in an interview that he went through the security process without revealing his identity as a federal minister in the Canadian government. "I did it on purpose, as is my habit, to understand what ordinary people go through when they get caught up with people in positions of authority," Bains was quoted as saying. He added that he only showed his diplomatic passport when asked to prove his identity.
In a statement on Thursday, he said: "As a Sikh, wearing the turban is considered one of the most dutiful acts for a person of the faith and I am proud to represent my community. Unfortunately these types of incidents do occur from time to time to minorities in particular. But it should never become the norm. I will continue to promote diversity and inclusion across the count, as our government has done since we took office. This is exactly why I ran for office. It is exactly why I will be attending the women's forum today and why I fought hard for inclusionary measures such as Bill C-25, increasing diversity and gender representation on boards."