Hands off on ferry security searches

ST. JOHN’S — The federally funded cargo ferry between Newfoundland and mainland Canada is a target for drug and tobacco smugglers, but there doesn’t seem to be much that authorities can do about it.

According to an investigation by the St. John’s Telegram, mandatory security screening programs like those used at airports would violate individual rights and freedoms if implemented for searching people, trucks and cargo on board Marine Atlantic.

The ferry service’s corporate security officer John Trickett, told the paper that unlike airports and the border, a "reasonable expectation of privacy" applies since Marine Atlantic is considered an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, which is under the jurisdiction of the RCMP.

The ferry can conduct limited searches, but not for contraband

Therefore, enforcement personnel would need a warrant or reasonable grounds to conduct a search, says Trickett.

He added that Marine Atlantic is allowed to conduct limited searches for weapons or anything that can endanger passengers, but not for drugs or alcohol.

The newspaper filed an access to information request for records related to alcohol, tobacco and drug smuggling linked to Marine Atlantic.

To fill the request, officials said they would have to review between 600 and 700 files … "in many instances we would not be able to determine how (the contraband) came to the province."


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