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Common Law Police Powers


The Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Dedman v The Queen (1985) kickstarted a rapid expansion of ancillary police powers. Between 1985 and 2020, Canadian courts generated 96 new common law police powers. Since 1985, over 900 cases saw the deployment of established ancillary police powers, meaning that courts have deployed these powers at ten times the rate that they have been generated.


Canadian courts operate in a common law system. As we have discussed here, this means that every decision that justifies police action by defining a new power or bringing behaviour within the scope of a pre-determined power can lead to exponential change. 

Over the last 35 years, Canadian courts built off of one another to get us to where we are today. Every decision played a part. 

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