Nunavut government can now seize property related to crime

Unlawful Property Forfeiture Act passed in 2017 but came into effect in April

Justice Minister George Hickes, seen here in a file photo, announced June 9 that the Unlawful Property Forfeiture Act is now in effect. The law gives the government the power to obtain a warrant to seize property if it has evidence the property has been used for illegal activity. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

A law that gives the Nunavut government the power to seize property suspected of being used for illegal activity is now in effect.

Nunavut lawmakers passed the Unlawful Property Forfeiture Act in March 2017, but it wasn’t in effect until April 1 of this year. Justice Minister George Hickes announced its implementation June 2 in the legislative assembly.

The four-year turnaround allowed the government to hire a director of forfeiture, said Justice Department spokesperson Isabelle Gingras in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

The property forfeiture act allows the territorial government to get a court order to seize property if there is evidence it is being used for illegal activity.

Prior to the law, these seizures could only be made by RCMP if there was a criminal investigation.

Any profits derived from the territorial government seizures will go to community wellness initiatives, such as programs or compensation for victims of crime, Gingras said.

These sorts of laws are used across Canada, but have also been criticized as being a violation of civil rights. In Yukon, for example, about 500 people gathered in front of the territory’s legislative assembly in 2010 to protest a similar bill.

Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak expressed support for the law on June 2, when asking questions to Hickes on how enforcement will work.

The RCMP will give cases to the Civil Forfeiture Office, Hickes said, adding the office will also rely on complaints and tips from community members.

A tip line for residents in smaller communities will be set up by the new director — lawyer and former RCMP officer David Lawson — Hickes said, although there is no timeline for when that will happen.

Until the tip line is set up, Hickes said, community members are still able to lodge complaints about crimes, including drug dealing and bootlegging, to RCMP.

“Community awareness is going to be a very important part of this office’s mandate,” he said.

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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    in theory this is a wonderful legislation which should give the courts more power to seize assets of well known drug dealers and bootleggers.

    if you make 2 phone calls or fb messages, in almost any community you can find what you are craving. the sad fact is that vodka, weed or scary fact even harsher drugs like shatter or worse are in our Communities.

    these need to be closed down and kept away from our vulnerable people.

    • Posted by Shatter on

      Agree with all your points, but I have to point out that shatter is just concentrated THC and not a harsh drug. CTV News started this shatter = hard drug a few years ago and it was panned by anyone who knows anything about drugs.
      If people are getting violent after vaping shatter, or showing signs of mental illness hours after the effects have passed (couple hours after the initial hit), then it’s not the shatter that’s the problem…that person needs mental health support.

      Ingesting too much shatter is like someone smoking too much weed or eating too many THC edibles. People shouldn’t take more than 1 or 2 hits of it.

      • Posted by Northern Inuit on

        concentrated weed, or pressed weed is one thing.

        shatter made with butane and other chemicals is a hard drug.

  2. Posted by GN workers on

    They should also seize the assets of government workers who go to work at the GN and do absolutely nothing. They are stealing from hardworking taxpayers. Theft is theft.

    • Posted by Speak to the Responsible Parties on

      They you’d better get on to the ministers to do their jobs and oversee their departments, don’t you think?

      We moan about GN workers, but never seem to hold their supervisors responsible.

  3. Posted by pissed off on

    How can a law be passed by the legislature and not be enforced yet 4 years later.

    Talk about gross incompetence by the people in charge.

    It is also a very useful deterent against bootlegging and dope pedling.

    Once you lost your $75,000.00 shiny pick-up truck a couple of times you might think again about starting again.

    THis kind of action works a million times better than all the probation and all the vague obligation not to use the internet, not to possess firearms, not to drive a motor vehicule, etc..

    THose are never ever enforced.

  4. Posted by Manapik on

    In a February 2019 statement at legislative building he promised beer store will be opened in Rankin within the year …still no beer

    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Be happy you don’t have that beer and wine store in Rankin. I wouldn’t wish the negative results (including more RCMP calls) associated with the Iqaluit Bandw outlet on any community including Rankin.

      • Posted by Manapik on

        Are you stereotyping Inuit towns?

        • Posted by Sad on

          Ummm, what? How did you possibly get that from the original post? Another person desperately looking for offence where none is evident. To quote Mr. T – Sad.

        • Posted by Red Herring Alert on

          RED HERRING!

  5. Posted by Southern Suppliers on

    I hope they go further and go after the Inuit suppliers in the South who are paying rent from the profits of their dealings for over 10 years without having worked a day for it. I sure will be reporting known suppliers to the tips line, it’s only a matter of time.

    • Posted by Truestory on

      The demand for all kinds of chemicals will always be around. It’s like fighting a tsunami. They can take the stuff. But, there will always will be a person willing to take the risks. Look at it this way. U.S.A. is losing the war on drugs since the beginning of fighting the war on drugs.

      • Posted by Since it Started on

        That’s since around 1971, you might want to add.

  6. Posted by Populist on

    ave any more success collecting proceeds of crime.

    • Posted by Note To Nunatsiaq on

      In a year’s time pull access to information about how much was collected vs how much was spent for this office to run and you’ll see it won’t accomplish much.

  7. Posted by Scenarios on

    What about someone who pays carvers with booze? Is that covered under the act?

  8. Posted by Westerner on

    You and I know as with everyone in this territory, nothing will ever happen Big fat period 🌑

    • Posted by Mid westerners on

      Absolutely, nothing won’t happen, even tip lines do not work Civic duties are unheard of in the Arctic, especially in small communities were everyone knows everybody

  9. Posted by Copperminer on

    Nunavut is a safe haven for the dominant mature bootleggers and marijuana dealers. No one in their right mind would even consider getting their dial a joint or dial a bottle into trouble in their home towns. They absolutely need their dealers to function daily So in conclusion no person in Nunavut in their right mind won’t even report any distributions of either substance. Hey if it is cocaine ? Then there plans might get a scratch so why bother ? Good luck people

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