Nunavut proposes law to confiscate assets from bootleggers, drug dealers

Nunavut's Department of Justice is considering a proposal for a new law which would give the government power to confiscate assets used in, and acquired through, criminal activity.

Justice Minister Paul Okalik says 'Civil Forfeiture Law' would deter criminals

A proposal for a new law in Nunavut could pave the way for the government to confiscate property associated with crime.

Nunavut's Department of Justice is touring the territory, gathering feedback and informing residents about the proposed "civil forfeiture law."

Justice Minister Paul Okalik said the ultimate goal is to deter criminals, primarily bootleggers and drug dealers. Eight other jurisdictions in Canada already have similar laws in place.

"There wouldn't be bootleggers or drug dealers if there wasn't money in it for them. So this is one tool to go after what they live off and deter their activities," Okalik said.

"These people buy a lot of stuff like cars and other things, and people see that. This is one way of going after those proceeds."

The law would not allow authorities to confiscate assets on the spot. Instead, Okalik said, the government would need to apply for a court order and prove the assets were either used for, or acquired through, a crime.

Those assets could have been purchased with money obtained through an illegal activity or they could have been used during the commission of a crime, for example when a car is used to transport drugs.

Some of the proceeds from confiscated property would go to victims of crime and to support the Department of Justice, among others uses.

The GN was in Rankin Inlet last night for public consultations about the proposed law and will be in Baker Lake tonight at the arena at 7 p.m. Cambridge Bay is the only other scheduled stop, although the government is expected to announce more.