WEF digital ID project ‘never launched,’ says Trudeau minister

Transport Canada officially ended its participation in the Known Traveller Digital Identity project last April. It was a digital credential system designated for international travel by plane.

WEF digital ID project ‘never launched,’ says Trudeau minister
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
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Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez took questions on a digital ID pilot with the World Economic Forum (WEF) that never took flight.

The department “officially ended its participation in the Known Traveller Digital Identity, or KTDI, project in April 2023,” Rodriguez said last Wednesday.

The minister was responding to an order paper question from Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis.

KTDI was a digital credential system designated for international travel by plane. “The KTDI Project never launched,” he said.

A WEF white paper on the project said Canadians were “demanding” public-private collaboration to develop a “joint identity framework.” They lauded it as “urgent.”

Last January, Transport Canada said all partners remained “committed to … close out the project and disseminate the knowledge gained through this initiative.”

It involved the Dutch government, airports in Canada and the Netherlands, airlines Air Canada and KLM, and services firm Accenture.

The Netherlands even told The Epoch Times that the project had been “finalized.”

Therefore, MP Lewis asked the minister to elaborate on the decision not to pursue the initiative. “The KTDI project was delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020,” replied Rodriguez. 

In April 2023, Transport Canada and the Dutch government notified the Forum that their participation ended due to “resource constraints, travel restrictions and competing priorities.”

MP Lewis also inquired about what data the project collected and if it had been stored. “No data was ever obtained,” the minister said.

The MP previously unearthed details about KTDI through an order paper question. Announced in 2018, Budget 2021 allocated $105.3 million for the digital ID pilot. 

Transport Canada’s expenditures totalled $399,938 on salaries and $238,627 on other operating costs.

Former Liberal finance minister Bill Morneau previously praised the Forum in an undated letter for its collaboration on “common” objectives.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the WEF staff, for the support provided to the Government of Canada,” reads the letter, obtained through an access-to-information request.

It is not clear whether the former official referred to the KTDI project in his letter, which fell outside the finance ministry’s mandate.

The Department of Finance did not divulge what capacity the WEF aided the government or when Morneau penned the letter.


After KTDI was put to rest, a new Digital Travel Credentials (DTC) project was in the works with the Dutch government. It only ran from January to March 2024.

The Forum did not participate in the project.

Transport Canada facilitated the DTC project by ordering a ministerial exemption to use facial recognition on passengers boarding flights from Montreal to the Netherlands.

“A condition of the ministerial exemption was for KLM to ensure that all passenger participation in the DTC pilot project be voluntary,” said Rodriguez. He did not elaborate on how many passengers participated.

The Government of Canada incurred no costs, and did not obtain data. No third parties obtained data either.

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