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Opinion  

Hidden costs of crime

By Dermod Travis

Move over Quebec, the mantle has been passed. 

With the release of Dirty Money, the report on money laundering in B.C. casinos by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German, the province that Maclean's Magazine once called the most corrupt in Canada now finds itself an also ran to B.C.

A lot of public attention has been focused on the shock and awe videos that Attorney General David Eby played at that news conference, but not so much on the connections between crime, gangs and money laundering.

You may recall a news story earlier this year that reported on the SPCA seizing a dog, in May 2017, from Chad Russell Hubick after he told a therapy group that he had “(thrown) his dog across his room in a fit of anger.”

Hubick had a bad run with seizures last year. 

Three months before the SPCA, B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture seized a 2008 Mercedes CL65 in March 2017, a vehicle leased by Hubick and owned by Lucky Eight Enterprises, a Vancouver used auto dealer, as Postmedia's Sam Cooper reported in December.

It also wasn't a lucky year for Hubick. Last November, he was charged with “break and enter and possession of materials used to break into homes.” 

Three seemingly disconnected events, if it wasn't for the man lurking in the shadows, Paul King Jin, the suspect “at the centre of RCMP’s investigation into money laundering.” 

Turns out, as Cooper reported, that Hubick and Lucky Eight are connected to Jin and Lucky Eight is connected to allegations of insurance fraud at ICBC.

In his report, German spelled out a number of similarly connected criminal offences, including loan sharking, drug trafficking, extortion and prostitution.

Needless to say in the wake of the report there have been calls for the police to do more. 

B.C. relies more heavily on contract policing with the RCMP to serve local communities than any other province in Canada, accounting for 62 per cent of B.C. police officers in 2017. In Alberta, it's 36 per cent.

What do we get for it? Some of the lowest ratios for police officers to residents of any province.

In Richmond, there are 94 officers per 100,000 population and that includes those working at Vancouver International Airport, in Kelowna it's 134, Surrey 142, Vancouver 196, and Victoria 233.

Across Canada, there are 185 officers per 100,000 population.

The savings aren't appreciable. Total policing costs across the other nine provinces worked out to $354 per capita. In B.C., it was $334.

Then there's the other cost to our communities. 

There were 19 murders in Vancouver last year. The murder rate was 2.9 per 100,000 population. In Montreal, there were 24 and the murder rate was 1.3.

Five days before the release of German's report, Paul Bennett, a nurse and hockey coach, was gunned down outside his Surrey home in what appears to be a targeted shooting.

Less than two weeks later, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner released the findings of yet another task force on gangs and violence in that community. It follows other task forces over the last 10 years that have all produced comparable recommendations, but little in the way of results.

How many Jaskaran Singh Bhangaland's and Jaskarn Singh Jhutty's – both gunned down in Surrey three weeks before Bennett – does B.C. need before the realization sets in that the gangs are laughing all the way to the money launderers? 

If we want a crack down, we don't need more task forces, we need more resolve. And if we're going to ask the cops to do more, we need to pony up more.

– Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC

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