Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Oct. 19, 2009)

Chipping away at the Armour

By Bob Cooper



In the wake of the Provincial Governmentís new bill regulating body armour came the usual clamour from the naysayers.  They claim that the gangsters will still get their mitts on body armour so itís a waste of time.  This opinion was expressed by the previous Solicitor-General when the NDP proposed the act.  Thankfully, we now have a Solicitor-General who understands law enforcement, realizes this will help protect cops on the street, and isnít so petty as to discard a good idea just because it came from the other side of the House.

The public, weary of all the gang-related murders plaguing Metro Vancouver, want a magic bullet that will eliminate organized crime and bring back safer streets.  While you canít blame them, it simply doesnít exist, certainly not in this country.   People would do well to remember that Al Capone didnít go down for any of the numerous murders he committed; they got him on Income Tax evasion.  The lesson here is thereís more than one way to skin a cat and good cops use every tool theyíre given.  Sometimes nickel and diming these guys to death is a lot more effective than spending years and millions in the quest for The Big Case.

It is true that despite the law, gangsters will still get hold of body armour the same way they get hold of guns or break any other law they choose.  The fact is that the law now gives the police one more reason to arrest gangsters.  Every little bit helps and the searches incidental to these arrests will often yield other items such as guns, drugs, or valuable intelligence making it so much better.  Call me crazy but I just donít see a down side here.

Although Iíve been very critical in the past, I have to give the Provincial Government credit for a couple of their other law enforcement initiatives starting with the Assets Forfeiture Act which is a very efficient, simple, and workable alternative to the federal Proceeds of Crime legislation.  Like every other piece of criminal law thatís come out of Ottawa since the early 70s, the Proceeds of Crime Act is onerous, feeble, and totally weighted in favour of the accused.  In other words, a real waste of time designed to create the illusion that the government is serious about tackling crime.   Small wonder when you look at Adscam, Sidewinder, and some of the other goings-on back there.  Even when it does work the feds just put the money back into General Revenue (so they can buy votes or waste it in some other fashion), a position supported by the RCMP when it was enacted.  They sent us to a training seminar where this Act was touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread.  When they got to the part where the accused, his lawyer, and the judge meet ex-parte to figure out how much of the seized money should be set aside to pay the lawyer, I went for lunch and never went back.

The province also showed leadership when Attorney-General Wally Oppal went to Ottawa last year to campaign for legal reform in the area of wiretaps and search warrants which would reduce the ridiculous amount of time and red tape involved in obtaining them.   In addition to always being a gentleman, he was one of the few AGís weíve ever had who really gets it and heíll be missed.  He also asked for other changes to bring the law into the 21st century and deal with technological advances such as the Blackberry which currently puts the gangsters out of reach.  The Justice Ministerís response?  ĎWell, weíll think about ití, and thatís the last the voters have heard on the matter.  He wasnít aware of the problem or just didnít care enough to fix it which is scandalous either way.  Like Iíve said before, with Conservatives like this who needs Liberals?

Speaking of which, I see that Jean Chretien was given the Order of Merit this week by the UK.  Must be his reward for buying those crappy old submarines that the Royal Navy was about to consign to the scrap yard.  Either that or someone in Whitehall has a relative in the advertising business in Quebec.  Who says the Brits donít have a sense of humour?  You wonder how the Queen kept her lunch down.

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2009