Ontario’s Attorney General’s Office Angry about public scrutiny in home seizure case, Part 3 of 4

Donna Montague was not impressed.

“At every stage of this process, whenever we’ve ‘negotiated’ with them, we’ve been railroaded,” she said.

“The search warrants were illegal.  They said that for our Constitutional challenge to go forward we had to drop our challenge of them.  After they arrested Bruce, did the first search and were holding Bruce in jail, they threatened to bulldoze our home to the ground if he didn’t tell them where the guns were.  What’s to negotiate with these people?  They want what they want and they don’t care what they have to do to get it!”

The Montagues instructed their lawyer, Doug Christie, to respond to the offer to negotiate.

“In regard to your request that my clients cease and desist from any communications with the public as to what is happening in court, I would inform you that my clients take a contrary view of your request.  They are of the view that this court proceeding is a matter of public record and as such, they and indeed I know of no legal impediment to transparency in regard to it.  In fact, if your actions and those of the Attorney General are in the interests of the public, the public should know about it,” Mr. Christie wrote.

“My clients are, however, of the view that your claim is without merit, both as to any connection between the house and proceeds of crime and in regard to any instrument of crime, and therefore would make the following offer on a without prejudice basis: If you discontinue this claim within three days of receiving this letter, or undertake to do so, there will be no further publication of any information in regard to it.”

On October 21, 2010 the Montague family’s lawyer received a letter from James McKeachie expressing that he would indeed be moving forward with his planned seizure of all of the Montagues’ assets, including their family home and property.

Not only is McKeachie seeking to keep all the property that was seized during the two searches of the Montague home and property, he is seeking to seize their home and land, and “Costs of this application”, and “Such further and other order as this Honourable Court may deem just.”

In other words, not only does he want to hang the Montagues, he wants them to pay all the costs of their hanging, including the building of the gallows, as well.

This appears to be standard procedure under these sorts of laws.

Under “Civil Forfeiture Successes” on the Ontario Government website, it states:

Ontario’s CRIA office is recognized nationally and internationally for its precedent-setting work.  Since November 2003, a total of $13.4 million in property has been forfeited to the Crown.  The province also has approximately $36 million in property that is frozen pending the completion of civil forfeiture proceedings.

McKeachie’s chapter of the book “Civil Forfeiture of Criminal Property” (Page 159) is blandly titled “Civil asset forfeiture in Canada”, but the contents of that chapter are anything but bland.  He makes what he is doing sound so…. normal… so acceptable.  For example:

“Civil asset forfeiture is a legislated response to the societal problem that a large portion of unlawful activity is carried out purely for economic gain.  Civil asset forfeiture is a property-based approach to a societal problem;  there is no punishment or stigmatization of people, only the removal of property.” (*1)

What is so inherently evil about this approach is that it completely sidesteps our judicial system and our right to be presumed innocent.

You never have to be arrested for a crime for the government to take your property.

You never have to be charged with a crime for the government to take your property.

You never have to be convicted of a crime for the government to take your property.

No arrest.  No charges.  No trial.  No conviction.

Just a simple and effective circumvention of the principles of fundamental justice that are supposed to be accorded to every man, woman and child in Canada.

And what happens to all the money and property seized?

Well, of the $13.4 million seized in Ontario since 2003, only $1.2 million has been turned over as compensation to “victims of unlawful activity”, whatever that phrase means.

Almost half of it, $5.7 million has been handed back to law enforcement agencies in the form of grants.

Five times as much money is given back to the very law enforcement agencies that enforce civil forfeiture as is given to “victims of unlawful activity”.  Does that sound like there is room for misuse of the law?  That there is the possibility of personal interest at stake when the decisions are made about whether or not to steal someone’s property without a trial?

Part 4 will be posted here tomorrow.

If you can spare it, the Montague family can really use your financial support! The government is attempting to steal everything they own. Please help them to save their family home from the Ontario government’s confiscation attempt!


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