BCCLA to argue at Supreme Court of Canada on appropriate use of sniffer dogs

Ottawa – The BCCLA will be appearing at the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, to argue in R. v. Chehil and R. v. MacKenzie. These cases concern sniffer dogs and whether the current standards permitting their use are consistent with the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Mr. Chehil’s baggage was selected for a sniffer dog search based on the fact that he was a solo traveler flying on an overnight flight from Vancouver to Halifax, had purchased a one-way ticket at the airport, and checked one piece of relatively new luggage. Mr. MacKenzie’s car was searched by a sniffer dog after he was stopped for speeding and aroused police suspicion because, among other things, he appeared to be nervous and was travelling from Calgary to Regina along the TransCanada Highway.

In the context of searches by police, s. 8 of the Charter has long been understood to require “reasonable and probable grounds” – reasonable grounds to believe that evidence of a crime would be discovered through the search. In 2008, however, the Supreme Court of Canada adopted a “reasonable suspicion” standard for using sniffer dogs, lowering the police’s burden to justify the search. The BCCLA is an intervener in these cases, and argues that the “reasonable and probable grounds” standard applied to all other investigative searches by the police should also govern the use of sniffer dogs.

The BCCLA is represented by Michael Feder and Michael Rosenberg of McCarthy Tétrault.

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

What: Supreme Court of Canada will hear oral arguments in R. v. Chehil and R. v. MacKenzie
When: Oral arguments before the Court begin on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 6:30 am PST / 9:30 am EST.
Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)
Who: Lawyers for the BCCLA available for comment