(LifeSiteNews) — One of the Canada’s largest Indigenous groups is requesting permission to search Canadians’ private mail, as they claim letters are a common means of smuggling drugs.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is appealing to Parliament to change federal law to allow police, postal inspectors or First Nations constables to search Canadians’ mail, as they claim letter mail is a leading method of narcotic distribution.
“The Assembly is aware opioids and other forms of contraband can be transported through the postal service due to a legislative gap that prevents police from lawfully obtaining judicial authorization to search and seize packages sent through Canada Post,” the Assembly wrote in a submission to the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee.
“Organized criminal groups can exploit this gap with high profitability and relatively low risk and effort especially in northern communities where postal shipments have become the most common method of distribution for illegal substances,” said the Assembly.
Currently, under the Canada Post Corporation Act , Canadians’ letter mail is safe from interference or supervision by the Canadian government or local law enforcement.
However, exceptions were made during wartime when letters to and from Canada were read and censored for fear of important information being intercepted by the enemy.
According to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, a group which represents First Nation’s peoples in Manitoba, drugs sent by mail have had “devastating effects” in remote settlements.
According to a 2022 submission by Canada Post Corporation, in 2021, postal inspectors intercepted 3,457 shipments of contraband in mail.
“Of the 3,457 items detected, 2,200 items were destined for Indigenous and northern communities,” which is the equivalent of 64%, the submission reported.
Last October, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs requested that First Nations constables also be granted federal powers to “search and seize mail through Canada Post” and private couriers.
“First Nations have a right to self-determination and their own First Nations laws should be respected and upheld,” the Assembly argued.
During 2018 hearings of the Senate public safety committee, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) revealed mailed drug shipments had become increasingly common.
“Narcotics trafficking by mail is certainly a growing problem,” testified Superintendent Yves Goupil. “It’s not just cannabis. Trafficking in fentanyl is a huge concern for us.”
Attorney General David Lametti told the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee he understood the concerns of the Indigenous and was “open to looking at” changing the law to allow their constables to open suspicious mail. However, there have not been any proposed amendments to date.
“I share those concerns as well as a general desire to make sure that our legitimate systems of communication aren’t being used for illegal purposes, especially one as tragic as trafficking fentanyl,” said Lametti.
While changing the law may prevent the current problem of drug trafficking, unlike during wartime, the permission to intercept and read mail would be a permanent change.
Additionally, while the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs argues that federal law must be changed for the benefit of Indigenous peoples, it is unclear if a change in federal law would apply to all Canadians, not just the Indigenous peoples of Manitoba.
Furthermore, the push to allow the searching of Canadians’ private mail comes shortly after the Trudeau government passed internet censorship legislation Bill C-11.
This week, a top cabinet minister from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inner circle confirmed that the federal government will try to bring forth a new version of its much-panned internet censorship bill that would target online speech.
If the proposed bills go through, Canadians may be forced to return to postal mail to share news and opinions censored by the federal government. However, this may become difficult if the federal government is given the power to seize and read Canadians’ private correspondence.