Supreme Court stands by existing rules for police searches using sniffer dogs

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada is standing firm on the rules for using sniffer dogs for police searches.

In a pair of decisions released today, the high court says police were within their rights when they used the dogs to ferret out illegal drugs.

The decision arises from two cases in which there were questions about whether police had met the “reasonable suspicion” threshold to use sniffer dogs.

In one case, the RCMP pulled over Benjamin MacKenzie as he was driving to Regina from Calgary because he was travelling two kilometres over the speed limit.

The Mounties did a police check on MacKenzie, whom they claimed looked nervous and had bloodshot eyes, and found nothing but still deployed a sniffer dog which found marijuana in his trunk.

In the second case, Mandeep Chehil caught the RCMP’s attention because he was travelling alone on a one-way, overnight flight that he paid for with cash. A police sniffer dog at the Halifax airport identified his suitcase, which contained cocaine.

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