Update: A report by the Canadian Press has quoted the landlord saying the police told him it was okay to show the apartment to reporters. The landlord, reporters, and (maybe) police should all know better than this.
On July 2nd Canadians were awakened with news that the RCMP have arrested two people for terrorist offences John Nuttall and Amanda Korody allegedly placed pressure cooker bombs on the lawn of the provincial legislature in Victoria BC for the July 1 Canada Day festivities. Luckily (for Victoria) the bombers were provided with inert materials.
For Steve Lus of CBC News and Jonathan Hayward of the Canadian Press (and perhaps others) the alleged bombing attempt gave them the opportunity to sink to a new level of opportunist depravity. Nuttall & Korody’s landlord allowed the journalists to walk through their home without prior consent. Lus & Hayward went as far as to take pictures of intimate parts of the couple’s lives- their editors went as far as to publish them, even picture’s of cat food bowls.
Josh Paterson of the BC Civil Liberties Association quickly jumped in, rightly stating that members of the media violated the couple’s rights. That’s good, but Paterson missed out on what’s potentially a much larger issue- the CBC is a Crown Corporation, owned by the government. A government employee just walked into the couple’s house uninvited (and without a warrant), took pictures, and published them for the whole world to see.
Public humiliation- Maoist & Soviet dictatorship style…
The couple’s rights are protected by the terms of the BC Residential Tenancy Act, a document that has very specific rules on why and when a landlord can enter a property. Terms include emergencies like floods and fires, or activities that require giving notice and must be for “reasonable” purposes. Broadcasting a person’s (alleged) methadone bottles on national media is hardly reasonable.
The RTA has a clause for abandonment- but, having paid their rent, there’s no question they had the right for their privacy and belongings to be secured (families and friends may want to recover it). Allowing a person’s arrest to automatically nullify their rental contract would obviously be an infringement on their rights.
Many important Canadian institutions are crown corporations- others include the Bank of Canada, Canada Post, and ICBC: the company that insure’s all BC driver’s cars. If Lus can be allowed to enter the couple’s house without circumstance it will set a precedent for a postal inspector, insurance adjuster or central banker to enter the homes of other people who get arrested without oversight or warrants. This concept is perverse.
Also, by traipsing around the suspect’s apartment, it’s quite possible reporters may have contaminated a crime scene. Broadcasting images of the suspect’s (alleged) methadone bottles could make it more difficult to find jurors who haven’t been prejudiced by the seeing them.
This obviously cannot be allowed to happen again. There needs to be an investigation- not only of the responsible reporter(s), but the editors and processes that allowed these pictures to go to print. There’s something seriously wrong at the CBC.
This whole thing made me uncomfortable when I saw it. I know that in Ontario the landlord would be in serious trouble.
The same goes in BC. The Residential Tenancy Board is unforgiving when it comes to illegal entry into people’s homes.
This speaks volumes to the low depths that the mainstream media has sunk to in Canada. Another would be the Toronto Mayor “Crack” story. Both stories are not only a fundamental failure of the media to observe the rights of the subjects, but both are illegal (for different reasons) and a fundamental breach of what is considered responsible journalism in anybody’s books.
And a complete breech of good taste…