Friday, 14 October 2011


In November, 2009 Marianne Sullivan lost her $562,000.00 home under B.C.’s civil forfeiture law.  It was the first house in Vancouver to be successfully seized by the Civil Forfeiture Office.   

It was her childhood home which she had inherited from her parents.  The house had been built by her father and was the only place where she had ever lived but Marianne was a heroin addict who had let it be overrun by fellow addicts.  It had become an addict flophouse and a nuisance to the neighbours. The house, however, was in no way the fruits of crime and there was little evidence that Marianne was profiting from the activities taking place in it. 

She ended up on the streets with nothing while the one hundred thousand dollar plus bureaucrats who run the Civil Forfeiture Office gleefully rubbed their hands about all the money they were collecting.  The executive director of the Civil Forfeiture Office boasted that this bureaucracy had become self-sufficient within 18 months of start up.  No doubt. This particular confiscation helped pay the salaries for a couple of bureaucrats in the Forfeiture Office for a year or so.

Yes, and self sufficient by throwing a 42 year old addict on the street.  

While it is justifiable for the government to close down drug houses (although ironically the same government is funding the construction of wet houses - residences for addicts where drug and/or alcohol use is tolerated - throughout the province), it is evil incarnate that Marianne had her major asset stolen from her in this manner.  The government through the Public Trustee’s Office could have proceeded under several different pieces of legislation to have effected the sale of the property and then the placement of the proceeds of sale IN TRUST for Marianne for her benefit.  Instead she was left homeless and penniless. 

B.C.’s Illiberal government loves civil forfeiture.  It is a nice way to end run the procedural protections in the Criminal Code and make some money at the same time.  It is horribly abusive legislation, however, as is now realized in many American states where it was pioneered.  In fact several prominent Republicans in the U.S. have led the campaign against it.  Where oh where are B.C.’s own right-wing defenders of property rights.  Cheerleading civil forfeiture, not fighting it, it appears.

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