Prime Time Crime  


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Dec. 28, 2004)

2004 – A Year of Infamy and Thuggery

  By John Martin

Another year is on the verge of wrapping up and you know what that means?  It’s time for another one of those year-end lists that media outlets churn out towards the end of every December.  Best comebacks, best CD’s, worst dressed, best one-liners and my very own contribution to this somewhat silly exercise – best Canadian crime stories of 2004.

This truly was the year of the rogue with weekly incidents of high profile thuggery and lawlessness.  We may not be able to lay claim to the likes of criminal masterminds like Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart, but hey…you want crooks?  We got crooks.

Kicking off the list is everyone’s favourite shoplifter, Svend “Bling Bling” Robinson.  Unfortunately, the authorities never uploaded the video footage of his great Canadian gem heist onto the internet.  But at least we have that priceless footage of “Five Fingers” Robinson crying on his boyfriend’s shoulder during a press conference, all but ensuring sympathy would roll his way and the violins would sing away.  Cry me a river Svend – and then go jump in it.

Then we have the saga of Vancouver Canuck’s sucker puncher extraordinaire, Todd Bertuzzi.  His cowardly attack from behind left another player near crippled and unlikely to ever play the game again.  Yet the wave of support and sympathy roared his way as well.  He also, on the advice of his lawyer, managed to cry during his news conference.  He successfully got the charge plea bargained down a few notches and rather than go to prison, he’ll end up running a few hockey camps for low income family kids.  The same thing he’d be doing in the off-season anyway.

Another slam-dunk to be on this year’s list is Alfonso Gagliano – former Liberal Minister of Public Works and Chretien confidante.  It turns out there may be something to those long, simmering rumours about Gagliano’s connections to organized crime after all.  According to FBI documents, not only is Gagliano a sleazy, shady, crooked S.O.B. (he’s a Liberal – we already know those things about him), but he’s also a made member of the Mafia.  Kind of a bit like Tony Soprano, without the class and charm.

The next item on this year’s list reaffirms the Liberal connections to organized crime in this country.  Documents only obtained through Freedom of Information legislation confirm that the government of Canada has been well aware for almost a decade that biker gangs, triads, the Mafia and other crime cartels have been luring foreign girls to Canada and them forcing them into prostitution.  Girls were typically threatened, beaten and tortured if they didn’t comply.  Not only was the government quite comfortable with this practice, they even changed the rules so sex trade workers wouldn’t have to endure the time consuming visa process that nurses, teachers and other professionals wishing to work in Canada must endure.  And you think the Liberals are the party that cares about women’s rights?  Fuhgeddaboutit.

But the most notable crime related story to come to light in 2004 is the one you probably heard the least about.  Back in 1996, Jean Chretien’s son, Michel, was cooling his heels in jail having been convicted of yet another sexual assault.  Even though he was eligible for release a mere 18 months into his three-year sentence, the Prime Minister was getting restless.  Chretien, the thug that he is, actually phoned the head of the parole board at his home and yelled at him for dragging his heels on Michael’s parole.  Chretien berated the highly respected public official, threatened him and then had his deputy do likewise to the corrections commissioner.   Coincidentally, his kid was given parole 48 hours later.  And you thought Zimbabwe was a corrupt, third world country run by a crazed despot.

Happy New Year.

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

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