BCCLA to challenge warrantless wiretaps at Supreme Court of Canada

Ottawa – On Friday, November 18, 2011, the BCCLA will argue before the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Tse, a case concerning the constitutionality of warrantless wiretaps conducted by police under section 184.4 of the Criminal Code. The BCCLA is an intervener in the case.

The case will determine whether it is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for police to use wiretaps to intercept private communications in urgent situations without judicial authorization. Section 184.4 of the Criminal Code authorizes a broad group of persons to perform highly invasive warrantless searches without judicial oversight or other accountability mechanisms.

The BCCLA will argue that the provision is far too broad and clear limits are necessary to ensure accountability. The BCCLA will argue that only police officers should be allowed to conduct the wiretaps; currently, the section allows everyone from mayors to fisheries guardians to conduct the invasive surveillance. The BCCLA will also argue that the length of time the wiretap should be limited to 24-hours.

Roy W. Millen, Peter W. Hogg, Q.C. and Laura Cundari of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP are representing the BCCLA.

The BCCLA’s argument in the case is available here.

What: Supreme Court of Canada will hear oral arguments in the Tse case.

When: Oral arguments before the court begin on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 6 am PT/ 9 am ET. The proceedings can be viewed live online at

Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)

Who: Counsel for the BCCLA, Roy Millen, will be available for comment


Roy Millen, Counsel for the BCCLA: 604-417-2349 (available Thursday after 5 pm PT/8 pm ET, and Friday after 10 am PT/ 1 pm ET). Grace Pastine, BCCLA Litigation Director, 604-630-9751.