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British Columbia Withholds Restaurant’s Liquor License in Retaliation When the Restaurant Asked for a Warrant Before Handing Over Surveillance Footage

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The authorities in Canada’s British Columbia (BC) province have changed a restaurant’s liquor license as a form of punishment after a row over its refusal to automatically surrender all surveillance footage to the police, in the wake of shooting incidents in a nearby parking lot.

The establishment, a part of the Cactus Club chain in Coquitlam, previously asked that the federal law enforcing agency RCMP come up with a warrant first.

However, none other than the province’s Deputy Premier, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth found the warrant request “just unacceptable.”

In fact, reports describe Farnworth as “stunned” by the very idea. That, in turn, is a fairly stunning attitude, but this high-ranked official went on to reveal that he never before encountered “a refusal to initially comply with police request for video” – in other words, somebody asking to see a warrant.

“They must have video surveillance and they must provide it to the police or a liquor inspector upon request,” he said.

Then there’s the mayor of Coquitlam who was equally flabbergasted by such apparently unheard-of behavior.

“For a local business to insist that the RCMP get a warrant for information that they might have that could lead to an arrest is outrageous,” Stewart is quoted as telling the Canadian media.

And the mayor shared that the restaurant wanting to go through what turns out to be proper legal procedure (the RCMP had to go and get a warrant) was something he was struggling to comprehend.

“I want to know their side of it. It doesn’t make sense to me,” said Coquitlam, who visited the Cactus Club.

The level of outrage might look completely nonsensical, too, but it seems there are unofficial rules in place that everybody obeys – or has done, until the “incident” with the restaurant.

CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association explained that there is “the general protocol” according to which both restaurants and individuals “give up video to help and assist the police in a manner that’s fairly quick.”

For not playing according to the “general protocol,” the restaurant has had its liquor license “amended.”

Asked to comment on the situation, the chain said that they do and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement, but that all 24 restaurants ask for warrants before handing over surveillance videos, and do this to protect privacy, and make sure they are following the law.

That’s “their side of it” – and it would be interesting to learn if it makes sense to the mayor.

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