CBC Story: Random use of police sniffer dogs breaches Charter: top court
The Supreme Court of Canada now says that random searches with drug sniffing dogs are unconstitutional. Such searches violate protections against unreasonable searches and seizures says the SCC.
Opposition to the decision says that sniffing cannot be considered an unreasonable search since it is not a search at all. The scents are in public space, much like your garbage once on the side of the road.
The SCC says that because of the quality of the information gained from sniffing it is equal to a search and must therefor pass a test of reasonableness.
What seems not to have been taken into consideration is what unreasonable search is supposed to protect. Civil liberties are to protect privacy. It is to protect the right to engage in unpopular practices that are not illegal. Unreasonable searches may bring to light information about such practices, but a drug sniffing dog may not.
Drug sniffing dogs are not a civil liberties issue because they do not suppress unusual, unconventional or unpopular practices. They are targeted to illegal activity.