column was published in the North
Shore News on
Aug. 9, 2000)
criminals love Canada
By Leo Knight
message hasn't changed, but maybe, just maybe, something is
being done about organized crime at the political level.
week the province of Ontario hosted an international organized
crime summit which demonstrated the complete lack of effort and
will by the federal government to control the problem.
Nicasio, an internationally recognized expert on the subject and
the author of nine books detailing the activities of the
gangsters, told the assembled participants that Canada is a
haven for every major organized criminal group in the world.
readers will know I've been beating on this drum for the past
couple of years. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for law
enforcement is the lack of action, caring and possibly even the
complicity by the federal government. And, for the most part,
the various provincial governments, ours especially, have only
added to the problem. But things may be changing.
an advisor to the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized
Crime, a York University think tank, pulled no punches
addressing the audience of cops, politicians, journalists,
prosecutors and government mandarins. He identified the problem
neatly when he said it's tougher in Canada to import a case of
cheese than a suitcase full of dirty money.
has always been a welcome wagon for organized crime," said
Nicasio, in a shockingly pointed and direct accusation leveled
at the government. His sharp remarks forced RCMP Deputy
Commissioner Giuliano "Zack" Zaccardelli, head of the
newly formed Organized Crime Directorate, to say the government
has done some good things. What exactly those were, he didn't
say. But it was interesting to see him in a position to defend
the masterful inactivity of the federal government in the face
of a crowd stunned by the comments of Nicasio. Well, the
non-police part of the crowd actually. The cops know all about
of the outcomes of the conference was an initiative announced by
Ontario's Attorney General Jim Flaherty. Finally a government
has realized the way to attack these groups is to go after the
money. Flaherty said Ontario will enact legislation allowing the
Crown to seize assets. This goes much further than the federal
Proceeds of Crime legislation and more closely approximates
also called on the Libs to amend the Criminal Code to make it an
offence to be a member of an organized crime group. He also made
sure he took his shot at the feds. "I think the federal
government is in a position of being embarrassed with respect to
its failure to make a significant dent in organized crime in
this country," he said at the conclusion of the conference.
of the other key messages delivered to the summit came from
Toronto police chief Julian Fantino. He underlined the concept
that the public has to understand that organized crime affects
each and every one of us and is not the romantic lifestyle
portrayed in Hollywood. He called it a greedy and violent threat
to our communities.
also beat on the "life must mean life" drum. An
interesting point when we compare two organized crime figures in
"Dapper Don" Gotti, former head of the Gambino Mafia
family, was convicted in New York under the RICO statute and was
sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole. He is in a maximum-security institute, locked down for
23 out of 24 hours a day. He will die in jail.
Caruana, head of the Cuntrera-Caruana crime family and one of
the world's most powerful criminals, was convicted in February
in Toronto, of conspiracy to import cocaine and several other
offences. The maximum penalty for the offences was life, but he
got 18 years. He will be eligible for parole in 2006 and is
eligible for day parole and unescorted absences in 2002. He'll
probably die in his own bed wearing silk pajamas.
put the blame on the federal government and called for tougher
laws. "We lack the laws, the resources and the political
will to effectively tackle the problem of organized crime,"
he said. It's the "political will" part of that
statement that really has the most significance. How else do we
explain the total lack of commitment by the federal government
to stop the criminals from taking over our country?
the United States, they routinely use the IRS to attack mobsters
and their ill-gotten gains. The next time that happens in Canada
will be the first time. The feds have an army of people working
at Revenue Canada and they consistently bug the little guy over
small potatoes while there are Hells Angels living in the
British Properties and owning whole blocks in Deep Cove.
To effectively fight organized crime it is necessary to go after the money. It's the most efficient way to hurt the bad guys. Finally, one government in this country has got the message. Now, if only the federal Liberals will assume their responsibility and demonstrate their allegiance to the citizens of this country and not the gangsters.