Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Nov. 22, 2004)

Don’t Ever Ask A Liberal About His Business

  By John Martin

Politicians in Italy and New Orleans typically have to fend off accusations that they’re involved in the Mafia – but it doesn’t happen too often in this country.  Canadian politicians, especially federal Liberals, are generally busy enough responding to (or ducking) allegations they helped a family member or associate get a lucrative government contract.

All that changed this past week when former Public Works Minister and long time Chrétien confidant, Alfonso Gagliano, came under scrutiny in the House of Commons.  Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, referring to a report in the New York Daily News, raised suggestions that Gagliano was a “made” member of the Bonnano crime family.

According to the report, FBI documents allege that mob informer, Frank Lino, identified Gagliano as a member of the Mafia.  Gagliano immediately denied Harper’s allegations.  Shortly thereafter, a contract was taken out on Mr. Harper.  Just kidding.

Actually, what Mr. Gagliano said, was, “This (the allegation) is terrible.  I have to take action, any action I can take.”  Now this statement seems somewhat vague.  So I consulted the Official Soprano’s English – Mob Speak Dictionary for a translation.  Apparently “I have to take action,” means that someone’s gonna get whacked.  Hey, just kidding again.

This past week wasn’t the first time that Gagliano has been confronted with suggestions of mob ties.

Ten years ago the RCMP were concerned that Gagliano’s accounting firm did work for Agostino Cuntera, a shady character who was doing time for conspiracy to murder another mobster.  Or, according to that dictionary, “He was cooking the books for a Capo on ice for a nickel on account of that job where some wiseguy got clipped.”

Back in ’96, Gagliano’s name appeared in a notebook discovered on the body of a Mafia member shot dead in Sicily.  I mean, “They found his John Henry on a made guy who took a hit.”

And then in 2001, Gagliano’s riding office was accused of contacting immigration officials to help out the wife of Gaetano Amodeo, who was arrested in connection with a pair of Mafia murders.  Which is to say, “He went to bat for Amodeo’s goomah after he got pinched for popping a couple of cugines.”

I doubt the allegations concerning Gagliano will come to anything more than just that – allegations.

Still, at one time it would have been too bizarre to even consider that someone from an organized crime clan could climb to the upper heights of the Canadian government.  But when one considers the era of corruption, kickbacks and money laundering that became synonymous with Jean Chrétien’s administration, it makes sense.

After all, if you’re going to head up the biggest criminal racket in the country, the Liberal Party of Canada, it only stands to reason that you bring a couple of professionals on board.  Its just business.

Well I’ve probably said enough.  Time to sign off before I get my knees broken in a parking lot by one of those Liberals reaching out to the West.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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