R v Harflett
Response or Comment
Charter, Unreasonable Search and Seizure, Charter Remedies, Exclusion of Evidence
The Ontario Court of Appeal's decision in this case is the only non-disastrous conclusion which could have been reached. The inventory search power that the officer in this case purported to exercise would, in practice, have allowed police to lawfully examine the interior of an enormously wide range of vehicles stopped for reasons unrelated to suspicion of criminal activity. However, under the plain view doctrine or alternatively under s. 489(2), a peace officer can seize evidence discovered while lawfully in a place or otherwise in execution of duties. The combined effect - particularly given police discretion as to whether the circumstances for the inventory search exist - would allow police to bootstrap a hunch, or even less than a hunch, into what amounts to a lawful search for contraband without any underlying foundation.
Stephen Coughlan, "R v Harflett, Case Comment, (2016) 28 C.R. (7th) 54).