Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Apr. 11, 2014)

Certain Realities 

By Bob Cooper

When I read this story Thousands of Richmond drivers could be on the road illegally my first thought was ĎFinallyí.   Kudos to the Richmond RCMP and The Province for exposing this because itís been going on for decades.  This has nothing to do with race as anyone who knows me will attest.  I live in Richmond and love it here.  Itís a beautiful, clean city where everything is well maintained and crime is fairly low compared with most other suburbs.  Unlike some who complain about the lack of commercial signs in English it doesnít bother me.  Iím reasonably intelligent and perfectly capable of distinguishing a jewellery store from an optical shop or a seafood market but this is about public safety and living in a city with a Ďrich, diverse, multicultural tapestryí (as politicians are so fond of saying at election time) brings with it certain realities and this is just one of them.  Weíre also rated as having the best Chinese food in the world outside of Asia so you take the good with the bad. 

When I worked Traffic Enforcement in the early 80s we were constantly pulling over drivers who couldnít speak a word of English, had no comprehension of the most basic rules of the road (let alone the Motor Vehicle Act), and in some cases, couldnít even physically manoeuver the vehicle.  Yet they produced either International Driving Permits issued in China, or, more curiously, BC Driverís Licences.  We knew there was something wrong but complaints up the chain of command fell on deaf ears.  No one wanted to touch this. 

Our suspicions on the BC Driverís Licences were eventually confirmed when RCMP investigations led to the arrest of 2 ICBC Driving Examiners in separate cases for taking bribes to issue licences to applicants who would otherwise have failed.  Both cases involved collusion with instructors from Driving Schools whose advertisements guaranteed a Pass on the first try.  Putting menaces on the road in return for cash should bring a prison term in at least the middle to high range but neither did a day in jail.  In one case this was supposedly in return for the examinerís cooperation in identifying those who had bribed him in order that they could be brought in and re-tested.  Excuse me, re-tested?  All of them should have been charged with Corrupting a Public Official and disqualified from driving but nothing was done.   Nor was any further information released about the number of people, if any, brought in for re-testing or what the results of the re-tests were.  

Anyone whoís spent any time in Asia (as I have) will tell you that while licences issued in other provinces, the United States, Hong Kong, or Japan, are a very acceptable risk, those issued in China are a whole other story and no proof whatsoever of the ability to drive - Chinese Kungful Driving Style. 

Another problem is that while a violator with an IDP gets a fine there is no means to attach penalty points so the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles can monitor his record in order to suspend him for having excessive points.  One of the chief objectives of ICBC should be to reduce accidents, not increase them but ignoring the obvious allows you to sell more insurance.   Iím also intrigued by the statistical claim by ICBC (quoted in the story) that there were 140 motor vehicle accidents in Richmond in 2012 (compared to 109 in 2009).  140 sounds more like the total for one week in the parking lot at Price Smart Foods.

ICBC has become the de facto Motor Vehicle Branch because, like BC Hydro, and the BC Lottery Corporation, they function as a cash cow for the provincial government.  Instead of reducing rates for good drivers, they fork over hundreds of millions in surpluses each year to Victoria so the government can use it to (a) pretend to have reduced taxes and the deficit through good governance, and (b) indirectly fund Jenny Kwanís 5-Star vacations.  

Putting regulatory powers like licencing drivers in the hands of a crown corporation which is a government monopoly thatís expected to generate profit creates at least the appearance of conflict but as I was writing this I saw the following expose on the lack of action on money laundering in BC Casinos by CTVís Mi-Jung Lee Suspected money laundering rampant at BC casinos.  Like allowing unqualified drivers on the road, ignoring money-laundering in Casinos has long been a concern of law enforcement but most agencies wonít discuss either issue publicly. 

Hey, itís British Columbia.  Where cash is King and everythingís for sale.       



Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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