Asset Forfeiture Comes to Canada – Article by Bradley Doucet

Asset Forfeiture Comes to Canada – Article by Bradley Doucet

The New Renaissance Hat
Bradley Doucet
February 2, 2014
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Should a man lose his home because police find some marijuana plants in his basement—in an illegal warrantless search, no less? David Lloydsmith was never charged with a crime, but British Columbia’s Civil Forfeiture Office is attempting to seize his residence in civil court, where the burden of proof is lower than in criminal court. Welcome to the new Canada, where governments fill their coffers with revenue from US-style “laws” that are the very antithesis of justice.
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According to an in-depth Globe and Mail article published this past weekend, Ontario was first to introduce civil forfeiture legislation in Canada. It opened its Guilty Till Proven Innocent Office back in 2003. Seven other provinces now have similar legislation, but BC is apparently the one that’s raking in the most cash. “The public has a very strong interest in seeing that people do not keep ill-gotten gains,” says that province’s Justice Minister, Suzanne Anton. Spoken like a true authoritarian who hasn’t got the slightest inkling that anyone with power would ever abuse it.
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Mr. Lloydsmith, by the way, has been on partial disability since breaking his back on the job. He says he started growing marijuana because he had trouble getting prescriptions for the drug. What a dangerous misfit. How dare he disobey his rulers. Clearly he needs to be punished before he guns down a busload of schoolchildren.
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It’s one thing if the cops impound a getaway car and sell it at auction once some bank robbers are tried and convicted. It’s quite another if the government threatens to seize the home of a family who unwittingly rents to pot growers, as the BC government did to the Jang family in 2009. The Jangs, afraid of losing their home despite having committed no crime, settled out of court for a sizable sum, according to the Globe.

In response to the BC Justice Minister, it is not in the legitimate or long-term interest of “the public” to confiscate, or threaten to confiscate, the property of innocent people. On the contrary, we all have a strong interest in strictly limiting the power of those we pay to protect us, lest they succumb to delusions of grandeur and elect to turn that power against us.

Bradley Doucet is Le Québécois Libre‘s English Editor and the author of the blog Spark This: Musings on Reason, Liberty, and Joy. A writer living in Montreal, he has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also writes for The New Individualist, an Objectivist magazine published by The Atlas Society, and sings.

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