Liberals, NDP defend eviction law despite judge's ruling
Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods law criticized by Justice Peter Glennie
The Liberal Opposition and the NDP say the Alward government needs to change the way it administers a provincial law that allows the police to evict a person from a home without proof that a crime has taken place.
The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods law came under fire from a Court of Queen’s Bench judge recently, who blocked the eviction of three social housing tenants.
Justice Peter Glennie did not strike down the law but said the way the provincial government applied the law was unfair.
Liberal MLA Victor Boudreau, who was a cabinet minister when the law was passed in 2009, said the official cited by the judge was likely trying to do their job well.
"In wanting to maybe do good or in wanting to address this situation, obviously somebody jumped some steps."
NDP Leader Dominic Cardy said he also thinks the legislation is making improvements in the province, so he hopes the judge’s ruling does not cause the law to be scrapped.
"In general, I think this legislation has brought some positive changes and I wouldn't want to see the baby thrown out with the bathwater on this," Cardy said.
Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors wasn't available for an interview on the case.
His department said in a written statement it's reviewing Glennie's ruling to make sure the eviction process is fair and balanced.
Department's handling of evictions criticized
The legislation is designed to make it easier to force drug dealers and other criminals out of neighbourhoods without criminal charges.
But Glennie said in his ruling the Department of Public Safety was sloppy in this case.
He said a departmental employee relied on hearsay evidence and did a sloppy investigation before trying to evict three tenants in Saint John's Crescent Valley neighbourhood.
Glennie also questioned why the department no longer tells people they have the right to appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Boudreau said the provincial government must tell tenants about their appeal options.
"There seems to a decision that was made along the way that the offer of appealing to the Office of the Ombudsman was taken out of the regular procedures. We'd like to know why that is the case. The office of the Ombudsman should be able to review complaints in this regard," Boudreau said.