Pubdate: Fri, 9 May 2008
Source: Airdrie City View (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Airdrie City View Ltd.
Column: MP's View
Author: Myron Thompson
Bookmark: (Opinion)


The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that scent-tracking dogs used to
conduct random searches for drugs amounts to unreasonable search and
seizure under the Charter of Rights.

The decision appears to have significant implications for the fight
against drugs, particularly as it relates to preventing drug dealers
from infiltrating our schools where they can prey on children and
young people.

In one case, police in Sarnia had a standing invitation from the high
school principal to conduct searches with the canine unit. The dog,
Chief, found 10 bags of marijuana, 10 magic mushrooms and assorted
drug paraphernalia in a backpack.

The appearance of police and their sniffer dogs acts as a deterrent
that helps keep drugs out of the schools. There was a significant
minority of the Court that held in favour for random searches of
illegal substances.

This ruling is one of the most ridiculous I have ever heard. I spent
years on the Federal Justice Committee and have been a vocal crime
fighting advocate, especially against crimes that affect young
Canadians. The people of Wild Rose elected me to represent them and
voice those concerns on their behalf at the Federal level. I have done
so, and I and my caucus have made some inroads into fighting crime
with the crime fighting legislation that has been adopted since the
Conservative Party was elected as Government. The voices of the
elected politicians are being muted by the Supreme Court. Another
notch against crime fighting can be placed under the Charter of
Rights, a charter that the judiciary sometimes interprets to provide
freedom to criminals.

I am sickened and disgusted that a primary tool to fight crime in
public places, such as drug-sniffing dogs, has been taken away from
police officers. Law abiding citizens would have no concerns about
search and seizure in public places; only criminals feel threatened.
This ruling makes it easier for people to abuse the system and puts
hard working families at risk. As legislators and policy makers we
have made it a top priority to crack down on drug crime so families
can be protected.

Operation Jetway, a national RCMP program to monitor the travelling
public for drugs, weapons and other contraband is placed at risk. This
ruling could have further ramifications, such as police dogs no longer
being used to detect explosives at locations for the travelling
public, such as airports. Imagine the number of lives that could be
saved by police dogs detecting explosives at an airport, bus or train
station or subway.

We want to ensure the police have all the tools they need to protect
children and if that requires new initiatives from this Government,
Canadians know that they can count on us.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake