This is another one of those classic PIPELINE cases where the police conducted a drug investigation under the pretext of a highway traffic stop. In this case a uniformed member of the RCMP (well versed in Pipeline investigative techniques) followed PPD on highway #1 near Lake Louise. After following the vehicle for several kilometers (and observing a normal driving pattern) the policeman attempted to pass PPD on an extremely icy roadway. As the police approached PPD’s “blind spot” PPD moved his vehicle slightly to the right to ensure that the police had enough room to make the somewhat risky maneuver in safety. In moving to the right PPD crossed slightly over the fog line.
The police used the crossing of the fog line as an excuse to activate emergency lights and pull PPD’s vehicle to the side of the road. Upon attendance at PPD’s vehicle the officer engaged his Pipeline training, made certain observations which lead him to suspect the presence of cannabis marijuana, placed PPD in the back of the patrol car and searched the vehicle. As a consequence of that search the police seized a large quantity of cannabis marijuana. PPD was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
At trial Patrick Fagan challenged the admissibility of all evidence seized from PPD’s vehicle as a consequence of the violation of his right to not to be arbitrarily detained as guaranteed by section 9 of the Charter. Specifically, Patrick Fagan argued that the excuse used by the police to apprehend PPD (the crossing of the fog line) was created by the police and should not be accepted by the Court as a legitimate reason to stop PPD. Patrick Fagan also argued that the testimony of the officer (as elicited in cross-examination) revealed that the so-called traffic stop was but a ruse designed to obscure the fact that PPD was being pulled over on a “hunch” that he might be involved in some sort of criminal activity.
BOTTOM LINE: Patrick Fagan’s constitutional application was successful, all evidence acquired by the police was excluded from trial proceedings and the charge against PPD dismissed.
For a transcript of the written Queen’s Bench decision click here.