Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 09.05.01
Quebec City


Passenger safety at Air Canada

It's a funny old world out there.

Air Canada announced it will be returning proper cutting tools to its dinner plates as of September 15.

You may remember right after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the people's airline joined its US counterparts in banning anything that could be remotely used as a weapon from all its flights. This included metal dinner knives.

So it was back to the old plastic picnic knife for all its passengers.

It also banned those potentially lethal nail clippers and tweezers, but that's another story.

Needless to say, some people complained. They always will.

So Air Canada has backed down.

Now, there are three things that are worth noting here.

Although knives were banned metal forks were still okay. Apparently four tines do not a weapon make.

Another interesting thing about the recent announcement is that the new knives will be dull and have a rounded tip.

Which seems to be self-defeating given the texture of the average in-flight steak.

The third thing is that the knives will only be allowed in first class.

I guess coach passengers are still not to be trusted.

This seems strange to me.

If we are to believe the CIA and CSIS the head of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, is a pretty rich guy. On top of that the terrorists are supposedly sponsored by wealthy Saudis.

All of which would lead me to believe they'll be travelling first class.

Besides, sharpening stones aren't banned. So between glasses of champagne any self-respecting terrorist will have plenty of time to hone himself a pretty handy shiv.

But I guess the folks at the Transportation Security Administration south of the border discount that possibility because they obviously don't have a great deal of respect for the average intelligence of would-be hijackers.

Witness the list of banned items published by the TSA.

Would you believe it? No one showing up at the check-in counter carrying an automatic weapon will be allowed to board the plane.

Ditto a bow and arrow, disabling chemical gases, dynamite, cattle prods, hand grenades, meat cleavers, portable power saws, plastic explosives, shot guns, or cricket bats.

Now, I've got news for our security agencies. The likelihood of any world-class terrorist showing up with an axe, a sword, or a box of blasting caps in his carry-on luggage is pretty remote.

I can hear it now.

"Excuse me sir, is that a spear gun in your suitcase?"

"Ah yes, I'm planning on doing a little spear fishing in Lake Ontario."

Nope. Plastic cutlery on an airplane seems a perfectly good idea to me, even for the nobs up front.

Remember, what brought those planes down on September 11 were a couple of box cutters -- not a shoulder mounted surface to air missile.