Fentanyl in mail target of new Senate bill

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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OTTAWA, November 22, 2022 – Proposed new legislation in Canada’s Senate would close a loophole that currently impedes police from seizing fentanyl and other contraband sent through Canada Post mail, reportedly the shipping method of choice for many drug dealers. Today Senator Pierre Dalphond introduced the Canadian Postal Safety Act, to assist police in conducting judicially authorized searches and seizures involving fentanyl, illegal firearms, and other illegal items in the mail. “The loophole places Canadians at greater risk from fentanyl and other deadly drugs,” said Senator Dalphond. “This bill will give police tools to help seize fentanyl in the mail and hopefully save lives in the process.” Law enforcement already has this authority in cases involving packages sent by private courier services like Purolator, owned by Canada Post.

Chief Mike Serr, Co-Chair of the Drug Advisory Committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), said: “The legislation responds to the CACP’s 2015 Resolution #08, which calls for police authority to seize illicit drugs, weapons, and counterfeit items from the mail, where authorized by law. The CACP Drug Advisory Committee supports legislative changes that provide tools for law enforcement to keep communities safe. The capability proposed in the Canadian Postal Safety Act would enhance the efforts of Canada Post inspectors, who have some ability to detain mail containing contraband and to involve police. However, Canada Post has only about 25 inspectors nationwide, whereas over 70,000 police officers serve in Canada.

As reported by Maclean’s in 2019, for fentanyl traffickers, Canada Post is a shipping method of choice. Since 2016, over 30,000 apparent opioid-related deaths have occurred in Canada, with deaths increasing by 91% during the pandemic and remaining at a similar level since. Overdoses are the leading cause of unnatural death in BC, with over six lives lost every day to illicit drugs. Just 30 g of fentanyl – an amount that can fit in a letter-sized item – can cause 15,000 potentially fatal overdoses. “Together with harm reduction measures, the Canadian Postal Safety Act will help address the public health crisis of opioid overdoses,” said Senator Dalphond.

BC MP Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam) will sponsor the bill in the House of Commons, if passed by the Senate. “The Canadian Postal Safety Act is one more important tool in the harm reduction tool kit which will help get poisonous drugs off our streets,” said Mr. McKinnon. “Too many of us have lost friends or family because of the toxic drug crisis. This bill is an important move that will disrupt criminals and save lives.” Mr. McKinnon previously authored the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, a private Member’s bill passed unanimously in 2017 to provide legal protection from possession charges to persons calling 911 to seek help for an overdose and others at the scene.

In addition to allowing police to obtain judicial authorization to search and seize mail in the course of post that violates federal laws such as the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Canadian Postal Safety Act will also permit police to enforce provincial laws and Indigenous laws involving the trafficking of contraband through Canada Post.

The Canadian Postal Safety Act will not lower the legal grounds currently required to obtain a search warrant for parcels or letter-sized items, but it will permit police to lawfully detain such items from the course of post before the items reach their intended recipient.

The Hon. Pierre Dalphond is an independent senator from Quebec, affiliated with the Progressive Senate Group.

 

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For further information, please contact:

Marty McKendry
Senior Advisor – Parliamentary Strategy
Office of Senator Pierre Dalphond
marty2.mckendry@sen.parl.gc.ca
613-327-6673

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