(This column was published in the North Shore News on July 5, 2000)


Organized crime flourishes

By Leo Knight

"For the first time in our history, organized crime is operating at a level where they are actually undermining the democratic institutions of our country and the values we hold dear. If we do not defend ourselves, we will become like some countries where the criminal organizations have become more powerful than some governments."  
-- RCMP Deputy Commissioner Giuliano "Zack" Zaccardelli, February, 2000

YEARS of political inaction and inattention by the federal government have allowed the various elements of organized crime to operate with virtual impunity in this country.  


Despite warnings from the police including voluminous reports filed each year to the House of Commons, the Chretien government still doesn't get it. Or, conversely, they are deliberately working to obfuscate the reality of the situation and frustrate police efforts to combat the ever-increasing menace.  


Following the revelations in the media last fall concerning Project Sidewinder, the joint RCMP/CSIS initiative into the infiltration of our country by elements of Asian organized crime and the resulting uproar in the Commons, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights began a Sub-Committee on Organized Crime. The sub-committee is made of members of all parties, but is dominated by the Liberals and includes former Solicitor General Andy "Loose Lips" Scott.  


The sole Canadian Alliance member of the sub-committee was SolGen critic Jim Abbott. I say "was" because last week Abbott resigned from the committee because they refused to hear any testimony in public. One of the ramifications of this decision was that no committee member could later bring up any information, learned as a result of the hearings, subsequently in the House during Question Period.  


Given that former Foreign Services Officer Brian McAdam was slated to testify, and would be alleging corruption and political interference, this move by the Liberal dominated committee ensured no embarrassing information would ever see the light of day.  


But protecting their political comrades has a price. It plays into the hands of the very people they are mandated to investigate. You see, the only way for organized crime to flourish is to do so in secret, away from the scrutinizing eye of the media and the public at large.  


There's a reason they are called "secret societies."  


McAdam, for the record, has agreed to testify but only if the hearings are held in public. Evidently, the last thing the Liberals want.  


I spoke with him last week after Abbott announced his decision to retire from the sub-committee. While it's fair to say he was not surprised at the latest series of events, he was also angry at the continued efforts of a government to keep a lid on the activities of organized crime in this country.  


"One of the most important objectives of organized crime is simply to be ignored. If there are politicians who deny or down play the importance of organized crime and who refuse to talk about it publicly, because it may antagonize the Chinese, Italian, Russian or some other ethnic community, or because it may upset the image of Canada, or a province, or a city as a crime-free area, then organized crime has a license to do what it pleases," said McAdam.  


How serious is the problem of organized crime in Canada? Consider the comments of Deputy Commissioner Zaccardelli at the top of this column. Then, also, consider the statements of R. James Woolsey, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the U.S.A. between 1993 and 1995.  


"The threats from organized crime transcend traditional law enforcement concerns. They affect critical national security interests. Organized crime is a multi-billion dollar transnational business. Profits from drug trafficking alone -- some $200 billion to $300 billion a year -- dwarf the GNP of virtually all the 170 nations in the international system," said Woosley.  


"Organized crime can undermine the sovereignty of a state, although criminal groups do not deliberately set out to do so. Indeed, their preference is to ignore the country they operate in. But when threatened by law enforcement, these groups respond with every means available, from bribery to murder, to protect their operations," concluded Woosley.  


And this, a UNDP report (United Nations) released in August, 1999: "Organized crime syndicates are estimated to gross $1.5 trillion US a year. The sheer concentration of their power and money criminalizes business, politics and government."  


So, why all the secrecy of the sub-committee hearings? The problem is global and there has been more than enough information made available in the public domain to demonstrate the significance of the problem and the fact we, as a country, do precious little to combat the growing menace.  


"It is my belief that corruption of government officials and politicians is also one of the key reasons for the Triad denial," says McAdam. "The Triads want to be ignored, hidden and secret. I exposed them and suffered the consequences of our government having corrupt officials in positions of power."  


"Secret-in camera hearings will never succeed. It seems what this committee wants to do is not protect the witnesses, but the politicians from any unexpected revelations about how they allowed this mess to grow exponentially," he explained.  


"This issue is too vital to Canada to keep it all hidden," concluded McAdam.  


As a matter of interest, I brought to McAdam's attention, the efforts of a certain RCMP corporal, now working in Ottawa Headquarters, who seems on a mission to destroy McAdam's reputation. The corporal, who shall remain nameless for the moment, is spreading the malicious gossip that McAdam, while stationed in Hong Kong, forged immigration papers to bring his mistress to Canada, and still sees her for secret trysts in Ottawa.  


Needless to say the allegation is totally groundless and is but another demonstration of the political stakes and methods. If you can't discredit the message, discredit the messenger. Tried, true and trashy tactics.  


The Mountie involved is merely a political pawn and a discredit to the force and the fight against organized crime and political corruption.  


It is but the latest in a dirty, sordid game.





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