Friday, April 25, 2008

SCC were off on drug sniffing issue

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.


  1. I suppose I don't know much about the SCC as I don't really follow news. But I would like to have thought that the people in charge of maintaining our highest levels of law were smart enough to grasp such a simple concept.

  2. It's a bad habit of mine to present original ideas as conventional thought. I believe they could understand it if it was considered. But I don't believe it was. I have not heard a rebuttal but because I have not heard the argument being presented.

    I tend to believe that the decision was fueled by activist judges doing the work of legislators on drug policy. (This is a conventional argument.)