FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government introduced legislation today designed to assist law enforcement agencies in locating a missing person in instances where no criminal investigation is underway.

When a missing person investigation begins, often there is no reason to suspect that a crime has been committed. In these situations, law enforcement agencies have no ability to compel individuals or corporations to release personal information about the missing person. This inability can stall and sometimes halt an investigation.

“When a loved one goes missing, their disappearance has serious effects on family members, friends, and their community,” said Public Safety Minister Kris Austin. “This legislation will help ensure that investigations involving missing persons will not be stalled or halted.”

Enacting missing persons legislation was a recommendation of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“It is a fact that Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn. “Governments have a responsibility to do everything in their power to prevent this violence and to improve the safety of Indigenous women and girls. The proposed legislation is the right step forward in our commitment to doing that. I wish to take this opportunity to recognize the significant contributions of Indigenous peoples in laying the groundwork for missing persons legislation in our province. One example is a project led by the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council called Looking Out For Each Other.

“In partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations, we are addressing the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice by identifying key areas for action,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace, who is also minister responsible for women’s equality. “I am happy to see that our government has introduced this piece of legislation that will assist law enforcement in their efforts to investigate missing people in New Brunswick. I am hopeful that this will also bring some reassurance for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”

Under the proposed legislation, police officers would be able to request information contained in a person’s records with an emergency/urgent demand, an order for the production of records, or a search warrant. The following information could be requested:

  • records related to signals from a wireless device that may indicate the location of the device;
  • cell phone records;
  • all forms of instant messaging, and
  • GPS tracking records.

The legislation stipulates that access to this information would have to be granted by the courts. This provision is intended to ensure the proper balance between enabling law enforcement agencies to investigate and protecting fundamental privacy rights.