News

MP assists grandmother's airport complaint

Elizabeth Strecker - John Morrow photo
Elizabeth Strecker
— image credit: John Morrow photo

Abbotsford MP Ed Fast met with local grandmother Elizabeth Strecker to review the problems she had with airport security in Calgary, and he helped her to file a formal complaint.

Fast said they have sent a three-page complaint to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), faxed from his office.

The letter says that Strecker does not take issue with robust security measures at Canadian airports, nor with pat-down procedures.

"She felt they lacked sensitivity in dealing with her as an 82-year-old woman with a disability," summarized Fast.

Strecker was flying home to Abbotsford earlier this month, and at the Calgary International Airport she was reduced to tears by the security screeners. They asked if she was carrying any liquids or gels, to which she incorrectly answered 'no,' not disclosing the gel-filled prosthesis that the cancer survivor wears after undergoing a mastectomy. Strecker had to undergo a full body scan, ordered to stand with her legs in a wide stance, with her arms up. She told screeners she could not raise her disabled left arm, but the security personnel were insistent. She pulled her left arm up with her right, but the screeners said that was not allowed.

When they discovered the gel prosthesis in a pat down, the security staff accused Strecker of lying.

She told The News she was humiliated, and may never fly again. Strecker's treatment received national media attention.

Her story struck a chord with Fast.

"She reminded me so much of my mother, and my mother-in-law," he said, adding they are about the same age as Strecker, and one of them has a similar medical condition.

"I know how embarrassing it would be if she had to go through that, and how angry I would be if she had to go through that," said Fast.

He "will not pre-judge" CATSA until the complaints process has been completed, but added: "I was concerned at what I heard."

Fast awaits the agency's reply, and said he will follow up if he doesn't receive a response in a month.

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