Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Jan. 15, 2007)

Gang Wars are here to stay


  By John Martin

One can only hope that the latest round of gang related gun fire, over 150 rounds discharged in Richmond, will serve as the much needed wake up call that our present approach to gangs and organized crime is not working.

In something right out of a scene from Scarface, warring factions armed with semi-automatic weapons unleashed a flurry or bullets in a public park commonly frequented by joggers, dog walkers and other citizens.

It is inevitable that by-standers will be caught in this type of cross fire as such clashes continue.  And law enforcement is quite frank - “this is just the beginning”.

Recall that exactly a year ago, Jack Layton, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper were all demanding tougher penalties and more restrictive bail conditions for gun related criminality.  Fast forward twelve months and both Liberals and the NDP are blocking every aspect of the proposed legislation that would crack down in this area.

True, Gilles Duceppe is also resisting the proposed changes, but at least he made it clear from day one he had no appetite to clamp down on gangs and guns.

Make no mistake about it - things are going to get worse.   A lot worse.

Criminal gangs from Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean have solidly established themselves in this country and are becoming more violent each and every day.  Ruthless gangsters from Central America, Russia, and the Middle East literally laugh at how accommodating Canada is to organized crime cartels.

Three things have brought us to this abyss, from which there may be no turning back.

A generation of naïve legislators governed under the notion that warring gang fare was something that only happened in the movies - or the U.S.  Consequently our out-dated laws were ineffective and impractical in tackling organized crime.

Second, successive governments dismissed CSIS and the RCMP’s concerns in this area and had no interest whatsoever in responding to requests for resources and funding to deal with organized crime.

Lastly, because of the involvement of any number of ethnic groups in organized crime, no one was overly eager to draw attention to this touchy subject matter.  So while legislation and law enforcement units were crafted to specifically deal with the Hells’ Angels, other groups engaged in serious criminality and levels of violence were virtually ignored.

Organized crime has few allies more helpful than naivety, denial and political correctness.

Unfortunately, these are the characteristics that now pass for Canadian values.



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

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