Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Michael Butterfield


Re: "Border guards need the right to search," July 21.

The court did not say that border guards couldn't search suspects or 
vehicles. Judge Ellen Gordon said the guards needed a search warrant 
before they could start tearing the suspect's car apart. The Customs 
Act gives the guards the authority to apply for a warrant. As 
warrants can be obtained quickly by telephone and the situation was 
secure, the guards had no legal authority to conduct a warrantless search.

The right to invade someone's privacy must be limited and have 
judicial oversight. If it does not, we are all vulnerable to the 
whims of officials in uniform. By viewing the border as a 
"charter-free zone," these guards felt they could search anyone 
whenever they liked, in any manner they wished.

What if no drugs were found and the guards were mistaken? Would it 
still be appropriate to drill holes in the suspect's vehicle? And 
what happens when a person of colour or member of another victimized 
minority approaches the border? Do we leave them vulnerable to abuse?

As a lawyer, I may disagree with Judge Gordon's decision to exclude 
the evidence uncovered by the search, but I applaud her for 
protecting our rights in the face of ill-informed criticism.

Michael Butterfield,

- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom