In 2012, the Ontario Provincial Police seized $10,000 directly from the pockets of North Bay, Ont., man, Jason Paquette, during a random street search. He hadn’t been charged or convicted of any crime in relation to the money — his only recorded conviction had been drug possession charges from several years earlier — and there was no evidence of connection to criminal activity. Paquette said he’d been saving the money to buy a car.
Paquette wasn’t charged or convicted of a crime at any point in this process, yet what the Ontario government was doing was legally permissible due to a practice known as civil forfeiture, which allows police to seize cash, property or goods suspected to be associated with criminal activity. It’s part of the legislation in all provinces except for Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.