On Thursday, accusations were made that there was a connection between the Liberal Party of Canada and organized crime. The charges were leveled by Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition. Our prime minister categorically denied the charge, and furiously demanded that Mr. Harper issue an apology. According to legislation tabled by the Liberals under Jean Chretien, however, the accusation is right on the money.
In 2001, the Canadian government tabled legislation in regards to organized crime and terrorism. Bill C-24 passed in both Houses and received royal assent on the 18th of December, 2001. The bill was aimed at biker gangs, and was meant to allow our justice system to deal more harshly with these gangs by being able to characterize them as organized criminal organizations.
There were several very specific changes to our organized crime statutes, and among them was the definition of what constituted a criminal organization. Please read carefully. The following can be found on the Justice Department website. It reads:
The new anti-organized crime legislation will simplify the definition of criminal organization. The definition will:
reduce the number of people required to constitute a criminal organization from five to three;
no longer require prosecutors to demonstrate that members of the criminal organization were involved in committing crimes for the criminal organization in the last five years. Instead, prosecutors will be able to focus on the evidence relevant to the crimes for which the offender is on trial; and
broaden the scope of the offences which define a criminal organization (currently limited to indictable offences punishable by five or more years) to all serious crimes.
Among the changes that it introduced to our criminal law was making participation in a criminal organization an offence. The new offences will target anyone who:
participates in or contributes to activities that help a criminal organization achieve its criminal objectives. This offence can include, for example, people who recruit others to join a criminal organization or who facilitate illegal transactions of a criminal organization. The maximum penalty for this offence will be five years;
is involved in committing indictable offences for the benefit of criminal organizations. The maximum penalty for this offence will be 14 years; and
is a leader of a criminal organization. These persons will include anyone within the criminal organization who instructs another person to become involved in a criminal offence. This offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
If you are still not sure that the sponsorship scandal fits this bill, please remember that there were at least three people charged in the scheme, that these people were facilitating illegal transactions knowingly, and that defrauding the people of Canada of millions of dollars and using that money to assist in financing a national election campaign is a serious crime.
Adscam and those involved are thereby enveloped into the definition of a criminal organization and conspiracy, the definitions being written by the Liberal Party of Canada. Since those who were behind Adscam and those who benefited were all connected in some way or another to the federal Liberal Party, it is safe to say that the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin indeed has ties to organized crime.
Now understanding Bill C-24 and its implications, the real question that the media should be asking of the government is why those involved and facing trial are not and were not being tried as conspirators in an organized criminal enterprise.
On a lighter note, while researching the above, I discovered that in 2003, another bill named C-24 was brought down by the Liberal government. That one dealt with Election Financing. What are the chances of that?