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Cops can now ‘take all your stuff’

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How did this happen in Canada? Given the recent spate of incidents where various police services have been observed perjuring themselves and destroying evidence (the Robert Dziekanski trial also comes to mind), it’s clear that this is a frontal assault on Canadian liberty. When you factor in the fact that ‘anti-terror’ law in Canada has shot holes in the concept of personal intention by jettisoning the concept of mens rea, your assets may even be seized if someone in your social circle is found guilty of a crime on or around your property. This must be addressed immediately by any honest legal eagles as may still exist in Canadian jurisprudence.

Update (2009/04/23): Wait a minute! – is this why police stations are preparing to have on-staff prosecutors?

Flashback: Entrapment becoming standard procedure for police | Ottawa moves to toughen anti-gang laws | Schools seek more police as crime drops | Ontario to place prosecutors in police stations | Tory ‘Guilty before proven innocent’ law to make debut in court | Perjury: Is it different for cops? | Justice Critic Brands Street Racing Vehicle Seizure Law as “Police State-ism”

Mindelle Jacobs, Toronto Sun
April 21, 2009

There have been some terrible miscarriages of justice due to proceeds of crime legislation in other countries.

Whether Canada will do better remains to be seen.

To the surprise of at least one legal expert, the Supreme Court of Canada last week unanimously gave the provinces incredible powers to seize assets allegedly connected to crime.

For a country that has gained the reputation, whether deserved or not, of protecting the rights of the accused over the rights of victims, it’s quite an about-face.

As one worried reader e-mailed the other day: “This is a terrifying development. If the police even suspect you of a crime, they can take all your stuff. They don’t have to prove it.”

Is he right? “Yes and no,” says University of Manitoba law professor Michelle Gallant. The cops can take your car, for instance, if they think you’re using it to sell drugs.

But the police have to persuade a judge that, on a balance of probabilities, the vehicle is connected to crime. And that’s much easier to show than providing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty of a crime.

In other words, if the police want your car, house, money or any other assets, they can get away with it without even arresting you as long as they convince a judge something doesn’t smell right. No conviction necessary.

“It’s kind of scary,” says Gallant, an expert in proceeds of crime, who never thought Canada would embrace such wide-ranging legislation.

While the goal — going after assets associated with crimes like drug trafficking — is laudatory, it’s an awful lot of leeway to give the government, she says.

At least Britain brought in a more narrowly defined law, limiting proceeds of crime proceedings to assets over 10,000 pounds ($18,000 Canadian).

“It does strike me as quite radical,” says Gallant, of the top court ruling. “Now the state can sue anybody — any asset — and if it proves on a balance of probabilities that it’s connected to crime, it can take it. That’s quite an extraordinary power.”

She would have been more comfortable with more restrictive proceeds of crime laws limited to assets over $100,000 and involving only serious crimes such as drug trafficking.

In the U.S., she adds, there have been shocking abuses of the system. She cites the case of a poor woman who lost her house because her son had been dealing drugs out of the place. And a lot of marginalized people have no control over what goes on around them.

Listen up, folks. Most of the provinces have similar provisions in their proceeds of crime legislation. If your kid is selling drugs out of your car, and you don’t know it, the state could still seize the vehicle as an instrument of crime.

Imagine another scenario. A new immigrant flying back to his native country with a thick wad of cash for his relatives. “We use banks. They use envelopes,” Gallant says of certain immigrant groups.

Pandora’s Box

That’s the kind of money the government might decide, on a balance of probabilities, is connected to crime.

The optimistic view is the provinces examined the U.S. and European proceeds of crime laws and got rid of “the worst bits,” says Gallant.

On the other hand, we may have unleashed a Pandora’s Box of potential abuses. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that Canadian judges have a finely honed sense of fairness.

“I’m ambivalent,” Gallant says of the Supreme Court decision. “I’m not sure if I have a lot of faith in our proceeds of crime units (and) government’s ability to apply these laws.”

Source | See Also under Police: Serious offences declined before Tories: study | British Army to Police Medicine Hat During Urban Warfare Drills | UK: DNA pioneer Alec Jeffreys: drop innocent from database | Afghan front lines take mental toll on military and RCMP | Secret Homeland Security Threat Assessment Labels Gun Owners Potential Terrorists | Trash search doesn’t violate privacy rights, says top court | RCMP shocked 16 people five times or more last year | Amateur video blasts G20 death coverup | Police seizures of cameras prompts B.C. complaint | RCMP still uses Tasers too often, watchdog finds | G20 ‘kettle’ police containment traps protesters, photograph a requirement for exit | G20 protests: Riot police, or rioting police? | G20 protests: riot police clash with demonstrators | NYPD seeks to expand anti-terror program to midtown | RCMP credibility battered by TASER inquiry | Quebec orders police to turn in Tasers | RCMP softened Taser-use restrictions | Rights groups press for better security oversight | RCMP supervising officer contradicts earlier testimony in Dziekanski inquiry | Police erased cellphone video of fatal shooting, witness alleges | UK Home Secretary unveils civilian anti-terrorism security force | Boys, 15, Tasered by police, stats show | Toronto police used Tasers 367 times in 2008: statistics | RCMP sexual harassment case dismissed because inquiry took too long | Head of RCMP unit that framed Arar promoted to Assistant Commissioner | Ottawa cuts funding for RCMP watchdog in wake of TASER inquiry | Annual anti-police protest leads to chaos in streets of Montreal | Pakistani police attack opposition march for independent judiciary | Entrapment becoming standard procedure for police | Tories aim to bring back anti-terrorism provisions | TASER launches new headcam for police – with ‘privacy mode’ | Monks taken for ‘re-education’ before Tibet uprising anniversary | Police-run gun amnesties in trouble across country | UK police maintain databank on thousands of protesters | ‘Say please’ at U. S. border nets pepper spray | Military may patrol bar zone in Barrie | TASERed immigrant ‘had the stapler open… he was in a combative stance’ | Irish Police Protest And Call The Government A Criminal Accessory | British Secret Service, Army Alert on Bank Riots | UK: Government plans to keep DNA samples of innocent | Ottawa moves to toughen anti-gang laws | All officers need Tasers, police associations say | Remote-controlled planes could spy on British homes | Family furious after police raid East Vancouver home | US Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police | Schools seek more police as crime drops | UK: Landlord fights police plan for CCTV at pub | Witness alters story but maintains Dziekanski attempted to staple RCMP | Tasers potentially lethal, RCMP commissioner tells MPs | New law to give police access to online exchanges | Military and police practice integration during Olympic security exercises | UK: Why protesters are now stalkers: An object lesson in legal usage creep | Police presence in high schools makes the grade | Controversial US measure would require DNA sampling at arrest | Detective denies framing subordinate for drug theft, trial hears | Selkirk teen sues RCMP over stun gun allegations | Ban stun gun use on young people, Ontario child advocate urges | RCMP destroyed evidence, charges dismissed in second torture case for officers | RCMP destroyed evidence, court stays impaired-driving charges against Mountie | UK Terror Law To Make Photographing Police Illegal | Toronto 18 Terror case: RCMP agent Shaikh was instigator who broke law: defence | Montreal may ban insults to police | U.S. study raises more questions about TASER safety | CSIS invites academic community into the fold | Olympic security boss puts protesters on notice | Woman swats children on plane, charged with Terrorism | Police fire pepper spray at Iceland protesters | Deadly Seoul clash sparks inquiry | Second phase of Taser inquiry begins in Vancouver | RCMP watchdog launches new Taser probe around deaths | Rioters Were Paid To Provoke the Police in Bulgaria | Police forces withhold information on Taser use from public: audit | Beijing strikes at Charter 08 dissidents | Toronto surveillance project to enter new phase pending review | Greek Cops Caught on Video Posing as Anarchists | US police could get ‘pain beam’ weapons | Counterterrorism squad secretly taped arrest of British whistleblower, elected MP | Five muslims face life for Fort Dix ‘terror plot’ orchestrated by FBI | Australian Citizen Journalist Charged for Filming Police under Anti-Terror Law | UK: Bailiffs get power to use force on debtors | Russian police beat auto tariff protesters | Lawyers slam CSIS on phone recordings | 1,900 Guns Traded for Cameras in Toronto | No charges to be laid against RCMP officers in airport Taser death | India to create national spy agency in wake of Mumbai attacks | Amnesty: Disproportionate Police Force Used Against Peaceful Greek Demonstrators | Greek Police Battle Mourners, Memories of Dictatorship after Student Shooting | Three Toronto cops to stand trial on corruption charges | SWAT Teams raiding Amish, Food Co-ops in Rural US | UK Big Brother police to get ‘war-time’ power to demand ID in the street | EU Police to Stream into Kosovo Despite Protests | Ontario to place prosecutors in police stations | Counterterrorism squad rounds up UK opposition member over whistleblower incident | RCMP Investigates, Clears Self of Wrongdoing in Case of TASERed Inuvik Girl | Police officer stands trial for stealing fake cocaine in sting | Police decline to lay charges in school sex-abuse allegations | Safety report author Falconer on armed police in schools: “Facile” | Prison service ices TASER pilot project | ACLU wants probe into police-staged DNC protest | Ex-Italian President: Provocateur Riots Then “Beat The Shit Out Of Protesters” | Mountie involved in fatal crash was supervisor at time of airport Taser death | UK Security services want personal data from sites like Facebook | Tasers being used for pain compliance during interrogation, suit alleges | Activists seen as potential threat to Vancouver Games | Secret RCMP studies of Insite ideologically biased, advocates say | RCMP to helm a Canadian “cyber-security strategy” | Family sues police claiming Taser raid on autistic son in own bedroom | Top court to decide whether trash is private | ‘Timid’ police watchdog needs teeth: Ontario ombudsman | Tasering of mom with baby ‘necessary’ in order to take child, police say | American Rail Passengers Subject to Random Searches, Police Presence | 2nd Mountie sues RCMP over sex crime probe | RCMP didn’t study Taser use enough: Report | Police Taser and abuse suspect, lie on stand, man still convicted | RCMP lays no charges in Maher Arar ‘terrorist’ leaks, declares case closed | RCMP spied on… Rita MacNeil? | Police corruption preliminary probe ends | Perjury: Is it different for cops? | Journalists urge ban on police posing as reporters | Mounties pinned me down in cell and tasered me, Manitoba girl says | OPP officer posed as journalist during 2007 Mohawk protest | Illegal wiretap leads to call for investigation of OPP chief | OPP threatened natives to end blockade | RCMP e-mails throw Dziekanski Taser probe into question, critics say | Edmonton police rounded up women for ‘talent nights,’ hearing told | RCMP conducts random search and seizure on Canada Day | Toronto police, corrections officers arrested in connection with grow-ops | Papers Please: UK cops stopping millions in streets | Police inspector posed as militant protester | RCMP firing Tasers multiple times at subjects, probe reveals | Many Question if Toronto “Terrorists” Were Led by Informants as Case Weakens | Mountie blamed for confrontation with man who gave him Nazi salute | Casino Loophole Lets Criminals Launder Cash, OPP Officer Provided ‘Security’ | RCMP Taser Confused, Hospitalized 82 Year Old | CSIS Spying on Natives, Olympic Dissidents | Crown complained of lack of Toronto police support in drug squad case | CBC releases Toronto drug squad probe report | Massachusetts Police Get Black Uniforms to Instill Sense of ‘Fear’ | Video shows RCMP using Taser on Man while on Ground | Donations of money, property and services continue to corrupt Canadian politics | Undercover cops tried to incite violence in Montebello: union leader | Report details RCMP agent offences shielded by new law | Accused RCMP officer says force acted too late against him in sexual assault case | Canadians who trust our secret police should think again | Anti-terror cops probed Ottawa punk band for Cartoon, Political Speech | Links between Judge Ramsay, RCMP and Child Predation in our Justice System | Judge gets 7 years for sexual assault on young native women | Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion

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9 Responses to “Cops can now ‘take all your stuff’”

  1. Steve (3 comments) Says:

    This is an outrage. Why are we allowing this to happen? When did Canadians and their belongings become property of its government?

    It’s a dark time in the history of Canada. I am ashamed to be Canadian more with each passing week.

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