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August 23, 2018

Dayna Steinfeld representing coalition of people living in poverty in Supreme Court of Canada case on privacy and freedom from police intrusion

Dayna Steinfeld, a lawyer at Fillmore Riley LLP, and the Public Interest Law Centre are acting as legal counsel for a coalition of organizations representing persons living in poverty, urban Indigenous people, persons living with mental illness and persons experiencing homelessness in the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) case R v. Le. The case involves a young man who was socializing in a fenced backyard where one of his friends lived. Police entered the backyard, located in a subsidized housing complex, uninvited and ultimately, the encounter led to Mr. Le’s arrest. Although the police entry into the backyard was found to be unlawful, a majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal said that Mr. Le did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his friend's backyard.

The immediate issue of the case is whether an invited guest in a friend’s backyard has a reasonable expectation of being secure from uninvited police intrusion. The broader question is whether a privacy interest premised upon control over property can be meaningful for individuals who lack the resources and often the authority to proactively secure their dignity.

The Coalition, which includes Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, Inc., Canada Without Poverty, Canadian Mental Health Association, Manitoba and Winnipeg, and End Homelessness Winnipeg, Inc, will participate in the hearing by providing the SCC with written submissions, which were filed with the Court on August 21, 2018. The Appeal will be heard in Ottawa on October 12, 2018, with a decision to follow.

For more information, please see Factum of Canada Without Poverty et al in R v Le