A U.S. intelligence agency wanted to meet with Transport Canada's "lead" on UFOs amid heightened interest and headline-grabbing news about the Pentagon's UFO research efforts and congressional hearings in the U.S.

But through multiple freedom of information requests, a CTVNews.ca investigation shows the senior federal transportation official repeatedly tried to downplay the enigmatic issue by contributing to "contradictory" media statements, pushing back against access to information requests, and deflecting questions to the Americans while also being involved in a UFO briefing for the transport minister's office.

"With respect to Transport Canada having appointed a [point of contact] for the UAP subject, I think it's about time," retired Transport Canada surveillance pilot Donald 'Spike' Kavalench told CTVNews.ca.

"But judging by their responses," Kavalench added, "they may have picked the wrong guy, unless their whole goal is to obfuscate the subject and downplay anything having to do with UAPs in Canadian airspace."

'Lead on UAPs'

In a November 2022 email, a member of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa asked Canadian transportation officials for a point of contact regarding "unidentified aerial phenomena" or UAP, an official term for what are more commonly known as "unidentified flying objects" and UFOs.

"We have some colleagues at the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence's National Intelligence Manager-Aviation directorate who are looking to get connected," the American diplomat wrote in an email obtained through a Canadian freedom of information request.

Since 2021, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has contributed to an annual congressionally mandated UFO report alongside the Pentagon's UAP office. 

A Transport Canada policy adviser replied: "Patrick Juneau (copied here) is the TC lead on UAPs."

Juneau was Transport Canada's director of safety policy and intelligence for civil aviation before moving to another government department in June 2023.

Juneau suggested meeting the Americans in-person during an upcoming December 2022 trip to Washington, D.C. The emails obtained by CTVNews.ca do not reveal when and where the meeting took place, or what was discussed. Transport Canada would not answer direct questions about the meeting and whether or not it occurred. The U.S. ODNI did not respond to a request for comment.

"Do you have any idea why the U.S. is looking for a contact for UAPs?" the Transport Canada policy adviser asked Juneau in a follow-up email.

"Not a clue though I'm fascinated," Juneau responded. "We've had a huge uptick in enquires (sic) on the matter since the announcement of the first U.S. Pentagon report."

'Vital intelligence sightings'

Juneau had been dealing with UFO inquiries since at least 2021, when Transport Canada's media relations team began consulting him about journalists' questions.

Transport Canada maintains an online aviation incident database that is peppered with decades of strange sightings from civilians, soldiers, police officers, air traffic controllers and pilots on medical, military, cargo and passenger flights operated by WestJetAir Canada ExpressPorter Airlines and more.

Transport Canada cautions such reports "contain preliminary, unconfirmed data which can be subject to change." With few exceptions, there is typically little to no follow-up or investigation.

"These reports have no potential for regulatory enforcement and often fall outside the department's mandate," a Transport Canada spokesperson previously told CTVNews.ca. "Reports of unidentified objects can rarely be followed up on as they are as the title implies, unidentified."

In Canada, UFO reports are often handled with what are known as "CIRVIS" procedures, short for "Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings."

"For CIRVIS questions, queries should be directed to the U.S. Government as they are not a Government of Canada instrument or process," Juneau added to a media response in February 2021.

In an email, Juneau explained he found the information through a Google search.

"We also just got an [access to information request] on UFOs as well," Juneau wrote. "I added a sentence at the opening to quell some of this, that they need to direct their questions on CIRVIS to the U.S. government."

Created by the U.S. military during the Cold War, the term "CIRVIS" is still used in documents produced by Transport Canada, the Royal Canadian Air Force and Nav Canada, the company that handles the country's civilian air traffic control. Nav Canada aviation procedures, for example, direct pilots to "immediately" file a CIRVIS report for sightings of "unidentified flying objects."

In an April 2021 email shared with Juneau, another Transport Canada employee flagged the department's official CIRVIS response as "somewhat contradictory." As of May 2024, Transport Canada continues to repeat the line.

'Wild goose chase'

CTVNews.ca previously reported that members of the federal transportation minister's office received a UFO briefing in May 2022. Internal emails outline Juneau's participation and approval of the briefing document, which specifically refers to "CIRVIS/UFO" cases. The document was created to assist the transport minister if UFO questions are raised in Parliament.

Juneau also tried to intervene with UFO-related freedom of information requests. Canada's Access to Information Act allows government institutions to dismiss a request that is deemed "vexatious, is made in bad faith or is otherwise an abuse of the right to make a request for access to records."

In a January 2022 email, Juneau described UFO information requests as "abusive, harassing, and vexatious," a "wild goose chase," and "not in the interests of taxpayers."

"We need an intervention on this [access to information] request and future [access to information requests] of this nature," Juneau wrote to Transport Canada colleagues. "The sheer amount of hours we have lost on these is ridiculous at this point in what amounts to someone's hunt for little green men."

The email was in response to a specific access to information request filed that month. More than two years later, it has still not been completed.

'Not taking this issue seriously'

In an email to CTVNews.ca, Juneau directed all questions to Transport Canada's media relations team.

"There is no assigned lead for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena within Transport Canada," a Transport Canada spokesperson told CTVNews.ca by email. "Questions regarding CIRVIS should be directed to the U.S. Government."

Kavalench, the retired Transport Canada pilot, also spent more than two decades flying for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He says "CIRVIS" procedures were included in his initial RCAF training and are also clearly mentioned in a Canadian military flight planning and procedures manual.

"I do understand their frustration dealing with all the [access to information] requests," Kavalench said. "Perhaps if they got serious about investigating UAP reports and sharing their results those [access to information] requests would go away."

Kavalench says it's also apparent that U.S. officials are taking the UAP topic more seriously than their Canadian counterparts.

UFOs have been the focus of recent U.S. congressional hearings and official reports from NASA, the ODNI and the Pentagon. CTVNews.ca previously reported on meetings that involved Pentagon UFO investigators and Canadian defence officials that were held in February 2022 and May 2023, as well as a briefing a former Canadian minister of defence received in May 2021.

From drones to balloons, satellites, meteorites, flares, paper lanterns and weather phenomena, many UFO and UAP reports likely have ordinary and earthly explanations. But unless there is an obvious safety or security concern, there tends to be little sign of official investigation or follow-up from Canadian authorities, leaving most cases officially unexplained.

Conservative member of Parliament Larry Maguire has become one of Canada's most vocal advocates for UFO transparency and has brought the issue up in several committee meetings.

"The U.S. ODNI is trying to collaborate with Transport Canada, yet Canadian officials are not taking this issue seriously," the Manitoba lawmaker said in a statement to CTVNews.ca. "The Minister of Transport must issue a directive to his officials to immediately work with our allies and get them to stop deflecting legitimate media inquiries."

In Canada, the federal government's top science advisor launched the Sky Canada Project in 2022 "to study how Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) reports from the public are managed in Canada and to recommend improvements." First revealed by CTVNews.ca, the Sky Canada Project now has a webpage that promises a final public report in fall 2024.

"The Sky Canada Project can only be successful if all departments, agencies, and contractors, such as Nav Canada, are completely transparent and willing to share information," Maguire said via email. "It's long past time to declassify information and make it publicly available in the pursuit of legitimate investigations into UAPs' intent and origin."

The following documents were obtained through freedom of information requests filed with Transport Canada. Contact information has been redacted in black to protect privacy. Redactions made by Transport Canada are white or grey.

Do you have an unusual document or observation to share? Email CTVNews.ca Writer Daniel Otis at daniel.otis@bellmedia.ca.