The Government of Nunavut has made it clear that they will not allow bylaw enforcement to enter homes without warrants during the pandemic.
On April 24, chief public health officer Michael Patterson signed a new order that states a peace officer is not permitted to enter a dwelling without a warrant unless the occupant or person in charge of the dwelling provides consent.
The issue was a hot topic during government’s April 22 press conference in Iqaluit.
A few days prior to this discussion, Kugluktuk peace officers had entered residences to break up illegal card games.
Peace officers have not entered any dwelling in Kugluktuk without a warrant, said Timothy St. Croix, the community’s senior peace officer.
“We didn’t enter any place without a warrant. We were invited in,” St. Croix told Nunavut News on Wednesday.
There has been a misconception that Kugluktuk peace officers have been entering dwellings without a warrant, according to St. Croix.
“We will not enter (any dwellings) under any circumstances without warrants, unless invited in,” he stressed.
During the April 22 press conference, Patterson said the peace officers had not engaged with his office.
“I’m not aware of the circumstances of when the officers went into houses or how that’s being done,” Patterson explained.
“I believe they’ve also been using the bylaws that the hamlet has passed and they’re enforcing those acts that are separate from the authority of the public health emergency.”
Health Minister George Hickes assured reporters that law enforcement agencies and public health officials cannot enter private homes without a warrant, unless there is an extenuating circumstance or consent.
The original order, signed on March 20, initially authorized peace officers to enter a dwelling without a warrant if “the occupant or person in charge of the dwelling consents; or the dwelling, or something in or only accessible through the dwelling, is a serious and immediate risk to public health.”
Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), wrote a letter to the Government of Nunavut on April 8 expressing concerns about “orders permitting warrantless entry into premises,” which were stated in the original order of March 20.
Referring to most recent order, Bryant commented Wednesday, “warrantless searches are no longer authorized, although clarity is needed to confirm that landlords cannot override the privacy rights of their tenants.”