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Everyone in Toronto wants a safe neighborhood, but what the province wants to do to get there reeks of repressive, invasive laws that could do more harm than good. While Ontario is only debating passing legislation similar to Alberta’s and other provinces’ Safer Communities and Neighbourhood acts, many are pointing out the flaws of the law. The Toronto Centre For Addiction and Mental Health opposes the proposed legislation and it is not the only organization to do so.
As one criminology professor has put it, the provinces that have passed these types of laws are using civil, provincial laws to help police create criminal, federal drug charges against individuals whom they believe to be criminals. If passed, this would just be one of a number of laws that make it easier for law enforcement to skirt federal law.
Under federal law, police must go through a series of hoops before they can access people’s homes or property. Although some may see this as unnecessary and a delay in prosecuting criminals, these legal requirements are an important way to protect all Canadians rights, not just those who are not under suspicion of committing a crime. No one wants their homes raided by police just because neighbours have complained and no one should be criminally prosecuted for it either.
Although this type of legislation has only been proposed in Ontario, it is but one law among many that is making it easier for law enforcement to skirt criminal law. If someone is prosecuted based on evidence obtained as part of a civil act by police, it may be best to work with a criminal defence lawyer to question the evidence gathered.
Source: National Post, “New provincial laws have had great success shutting down drug dens, but critics question why they circumvent the criminal code,” Jen Gerson, Feb. 28, 2014