I published this almost eight years ago. Has anything changed? Maybe the names, but not the methodology or the results.
Some articles here are critical of police – particularly the RCMP – and, by implication, political leaders who fail to legislate effective oversight. Of course, the problem is truly not with leadership. It lies with citizens. Some of us want effective modern policing and a justice system beyond reproach. But, our whole society may not care enough to go there.
Obviously, the subject is large and influences deeply entrenched. Present practices are not easily altered, nor will they be in the future. The law and justice industry is dominant, wealthy and resistant to change. Before anything else, citizens must rise beyond complacency. If we don’t, our society will become either more lawless or more authoritarian.
The Economist, a news magazine published in London for more than 165 years, recently accused Canada of being “…as shockingly slow as many in Latin America when it comes to dealing with allegations of corruption and white-collar crime.”
They pointed at the judicial inquiry about Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber, noting the matter under investigation dates back to 1993, when Mulroney accepted the first envelope stuffed with cash. It is six years since these payments became widely known but the affair could drag on for several more years.
The Economist states that delay was standard in the case of Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, two theatre impresarios convicted of fraud in Canada, 10 years after they were indicted in the USA and fled to Canada.
The magazine compares how Canadian sloth is matched by American zeal:
Conrad Black was jailed for fraud south of the border but was never charged in his native Canada, although some of the press baron’s offences were committed there.
While noting differences in legal systems, they blame Canadian attitudes, saying that Canadians tend to defer to authority and trust institutions. Outrage is rarely provoked. “Canadians are complacent about these things,” says Tony Coulson of Environics.
In a May 2009 article, The Economist describes Vancouver as a distribution hub in a global drugs trade. It says gangs ship out cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy made in BC, importing cocaine, heroin and guns, fighting over a business worth an estimated C$7 billion a year.
That they do so in broad daylight demonstrates the feckless response of the provincial government and police, despite reports dating back more than 30 years giving warning of the growth in organized crime. According to SFU criminologist Rob Gordon, the current effort at collaboration, led by the Mounties, is ‘riven with conflict’.
The magazine closes with this observation:
Despite some recent high-profile arrests of gangsters, Vancouver’s local police admit they are not winning the war. They complain of having fewer officers per head of population than other big Canadian cities. The provincial government is planning a C$20m cut in annual spending on police and the courts by 2012. The gangsters, by contrast, are well funded and have little trouble replacing those lost in shoot-outs.