Suspected drug dealer turfed from Annapolis Valley home
New provincial law aims at cleaning up neighbourhoods
Last Updated: Friday, February 29, 2008 | 10:27 AM AT
A man accused of selling drugs from his Annapolis Valley home was evicted Thursday under a Nova Scotia law called the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act.
Mike Cochrane, who has lived in a trailer in Berwick for the past seven years, said it's not fair that he's been turfed from his home before his case even makes it through the courts.
"Like, I thought this was a free country. Now I'm looking at it like, man, this legislation is really tough. If one person complains … they can twist this into what they twisted it into," Cochrane said.
Cochrane and two other people who lived in the trailer are facing numerous drug charges, but they have not been convicted and their cases are still before the courts.
Since the new law became operational last April, the public safety investigative unit has looked into more than 150 complaints, and there have been more than 30 evictions. But this is the first time a court order has been issued for this type of eviction, because Cochrane and the other residents refused to leave the trailer.
This investigation began last May, and government investigators said they have enough evidence to prove the trailer's residents are a bad influence on the neighbourhood.
Cochrane's neighbours said his eviction from their neighbourhood makes them feel safer.
"I just see the extra volume of traffic in and out a lot on the road. And I know they're under investigation, so all I can do is hope they prove their case," Marie Davidson said.
But Cochrane believes the whole process is unfair.
"I'm just basically being railroaded. What is that all about?" Cochrane said he was given no prior notice he would be evicted from his home.
"And they never told me they were going to give a press release. I'm trying to get in touch with the judge now and I can't get ahold of him, naturally, because that's the way the world goes," Cochrane said.
Halifax lawyer and civil libertarian Walter Thompson agreed the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is not fair.
"Fair play is an inherent attribute, supposedly, of our whole legal system, and it seems they've thrown out all the concepts of fairness in this legislation," he told CBC News.
Thompson described the eviction as a "draconian order which deprives people of our basic civil liberties, as we understand them, which is the security to be in our own homes."
The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act states that it "improves community safety by targeting and, if necessary, shutting down residential and commercial buildings and land that are regularly used for illegal activities such as producing, selling or using illegal drugs, prostitution, illegal gaming, the unlawful sale and consumption of alcohol."
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