Properly resourcing police departments to go after gang-related crime

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, I have heard from the Conservative benches that there is concern about gang crime. However, gang crime is not part of this proposed legislation, and not all bills contain everything that is related.

I know the member has background in this area. I have talked to a lot of people who prosecute gang crime. It seems to me that what is needed in that instance, and what I hear from them, is that they need more resources. In most communities, if we ask the police officers, they know who the bad actor is, but they just cannot go after them. However, a lot of information can come from things like forensic accounting and getting people to go over tax records. They got Al Capone for tax evasion, but they never actually got him for anything else.

I wonder if the member has any thoughts on whether we should boost criminal justice, prosecution, and investigations with things that are a little outside of what we normally would think about. More of this is done in the U.S. from what I understand. We could go at the tax records and go after people for those offences, and then the rest of the crimes would kind of unravel from there.

Glen Motz – Member for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner

Madam Speaker, I agree that providing police the resources to deal with gun and gang violence and drug enforcement is critical as we move forward in this day and age. However, what I find disturbing are the proposals I see in Bill C-71, which go in the opposite direction. Rather than making participation in a criminal organization a more serious criminal offence, and it is difficult to prosecute in the first place, the Liberals would make the possibility of a hybrid offence, like a dual offence, a summary conviction. Therefore, someone who is a member of a gang could receive a fine or six months maximum in jail.

Yes, there needs to be resources allotted to policing. We heard from the Liberals that Bill C-71 was a multi-pronged approach. It would go with the $327 million that was put toward guns and gangs announced last fall, and $100 million annually going forward. However, we have not seen how that will play out. We talked to the policing community. It is not so much that it needs more need bodies, which it does, but it needs the lawful mechanisms to make it palatable to go after some of these criminals.

The member talked about financial crimes. It is a booming business in Canada, because our laws make it almost impossible to try to convict individuals who are profiting from organized crime.