Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the panel.
My name is Frank Beazley, and I'm chief of the Halifax Regional Police. The Halifax regional municipality is a region of approximately 385,000 people, who represent about 42% of the population of Nova Scotia. It is home to an international seaport, an international airport, and Canada's armed forces, including the east coast navy.
Organized crime, in its many forms, is not new to HRM. We deal with organized crime groups we describe as being both structured and unstructured, involving organized drug trafficking groups, interprovincial prostitution rings, drug importation groups, and the phenomenon over the last couple of years of street gangs. At the heart of these groups is criminal activity and the profits these activities bring to their membership. Within HRM, these groups deal in most drugs: cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, and crack cocaine, being the drugs of choice in this area.
Members of these groups have become sophisticated in their criminal operations in many ways. They utilize the latest in technology to communicate with each other, with things like throw-away cellphones, text messaging, speaking over the Internet, and social media sites. It has been very difficult for mid-sized police agencies such as the Halifax Regional Police to keep pace with the changing technology. Many of these groups hide their illicit moneys through the establishment of companies such as pizza shops, numbered companies, and owned real estate, just to name a few. Investigating these groups does require specialized training. Further, these types of investigations are usually very long in nature and very expensive.
What has alarmed the citizens of HRM has been the increasing violence that comes with these groups and the street gangs. In 2004, a report from Statistics Canada indicated that per capita, HRM was the most violent city in Canada. Crimes such as drive-by shootings and gang-related homicides have contributed to the fear of crime within our communities.
As a police agency, we've changed our approach to fighting crime, particularly violent crime. We continue to support and participate in integrated police intelligence units, proceeds of crime units, and integrated enforcement units. To address the violence at the street level, we have formed street teams of police officers who work flexible hours and carry out surveillance on known crime groups and active street members. Our teams are focused in their activities by crime analysis reports that are shared with all members of patrol and the street teams. We have instituted a monitoring program of all known offenders in the community who are presently before the courts and released on conditions. We also have community response officers assigned to our policing divisions who deal full time with crime and quality of life issues. These officers specialize in solving community problems by working with citizens' groups and government and non-government agencies.
In 2009, HRM created a public safety officer position to deal with crime and its root causes and to develop crime prevention strategies. This position was founded after a very extensive report entitled, “Violence and Public Safety in the Halifax Regional Municipality”. This report was authored to address mainly violent crime issues throughout the region.
One of the approaches the report recommended was the establishment of a tripartite forum on justice, which would bring together municipal, provincial, and federal representatives to consider violence and public safety issues and strategies to deal with them. At this time we are at the early stages of forming this committee. In 2006, a committee known as Safer and Stronger Communities was formed by the Halifax Regional Police, the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, and the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, to address issues in high-crime neighbourhoods. We are working on expanding this committee to bring in representation from the federal government.
We are also in the second year of a program known as the youth advocate program, which is a partnership between the federal government and HRM. The purpose of this program is to work with youths who are at risk of becoming street gang members. We currently have approximately 25 young people in the program, with a waiting list for more to attend.
It is our belief that organized crime and its violent activities have to be addressed in a number of strategic ways. Focused, proactive policing is necessary, but if we concentrate on policing alone and do not address the contributing factors to crime, we will never make any significant inroads to preventing crime in the first place.
HRM's approach is to deal with these issues in a planned, deliberate approach, with partners coming from all levels of government and the community itself. Having said that, new laws that are tough on crime are welcome. I would like to see proposed bills that deal with issues such as lawful access passed. Rules around disclosure, I believe, have to be revisited as well.
Organized crime files have become so large and complicated that it is very difficult to proceed through the justice system in a reasonable timeframe. Affidavits for part VI investigations, or affidavits for information such as banking or tax information pre-charge, for proceeds-of-crime files are in the hundreds of pages.
Also, a federally funded national witness protection program would be of great assistance to the policing community. The cost of witness protection is prohibitive for many small and medium-sized police agencies.
In closing, it is my belief that to address organized crime and crime in general requires partnerships from all orders of government working together towards a common goal of achieving safe communities. I believe the federal government should take a leading role, by passing new laws, strengthening existing laws, and funding programs that will assist the provincial and municipal governments to address the many issues that contribute to crime.
I have brought with me this morning Sharon Martin from our youth advocate program. It's been a very effective program working with young people in high-crime areas. And I've brought Superintendent Don Spicer, who's now the HRM public safety officer. They're also available for questions.
Those are my opening remarks, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, and thank you for inviting us here to speak today about organized crime and its impact on our community. I appear before you today as a superintendent in charge of the RCMP federal policing program here in Nova Scotia.
The federal policing program is focused on the highest level of organized crime, which has the most significant impact on everyone's safety. As such, significant disruptions of organized crime groups continue to be made through integrated, intelligence-led investigations and to result in a considerable impact in the reduction of crime and the enhancement of safety throughout the province. Although Atlantic Canada is not experiencing the extent of organized crime and gang activity that central and western Canada are, our large coastline, small population, and relative proximity to international borders make Atlantic Canada an attractive gateway for organized crime.
An example of this was furnished in September 2008. The RCMP interdicted a vessel in Spanish Ship Bay, Nova Scotia, containing approximately 750 kilograms of cannabis resin. It was determined that a well-known organized crime group operating within Hamilton, Ontario, was transporting the drugs from the Caribbean. This case is currently before the courts.
Using an intelligence-led integrated approach with our policing and law enforcement partners, the RCMP in Nova Scotia is focused on reducing the threat and impact of organized crime throughout the province. The impact of organized crime is reduced by the coordinated efforts of municipal, provincial, federal, and international police and by all levels of government, by the community, and by industry. In Nova Scotia, we are using this approach to share intelligence. The integrated steering committee, consisting of RCMP senior management, municipal chiefs, and criminal intelligence services in Nova Scotia, uses information gathered by the H Division criminal analysis section and CISNS to coordinate and set provincial priorities in relation to organized crime groups or individuals.
Further, the organized crime tactical assessment committee, consisting of RCMP and municipal police resources, meets bi-weekly to provide ongoing monitoring of the priorities and to identify organized crime groups as outlined by the steering committee. The provincial threat assessment, which assesses the potential threat of organized and serious crime in a province, is now an integrated process between CISNS and the RCMP H Division criminal analysis section.
Nationally, the newly created Office of the Chief Criminal Intelligence Executive is effectively aligned with the Criminal Intelligence Services Canada central bureau and the RCMP criminal intelligence and national program support and development within the policing support services of the RCMP.
Our law enforcement community has made significant progress, operating by the principle of integrated, intelligence-led policing. Examples of this include the development of the integrated provincial and national threat assessment, the Canadian law enforcement strategy to combat organized crime of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the development and implementation of the CISC Sentinel strategic early warning methodology, watch lists and assessments, and the creation of the Council on Public Safety, renamed as the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime, commonly referred to as CIROC.
The OCCIE has been structured to ensure that the independent yet complementary mandates of CISC and RCMP criminal intelligence are respected, while at the same time deriving significant benefit by having a common program support and development component. Thus, the new organizational structure of the OCCIE will ensure that despite the fact of limited budgets and resources, the alignment of a common service will permit the dedication of maximum resources and funding to critical projects, such as the development of the new Canadian criminal intelligence information system, the Canadian intelligence model, and ongoing enhancement of key intelligence products and services. This includes the integrated threat assessments, Sentinel strategic early warning assessments, and targeted organized crime group and criminal market assessments.
The OCCIE creates a truly aligned criminal intelligence community at all levels of policing across Canada, thereby making maximum use of limited human, material, and financial resources. These are all aimed at ensuring that our municipal, provincial, and federal law enforcement agencies are equipped with the best and most timely intelligence possible to ensure safety in all regions of Canada. The realization of this vision will be recognized as a global best practice in integrated, intelligence-led policing.
In the fight against organized crime and serious crime in Canada, the criminal intelligence community relies heavily on computer systems to collect, collate, analyze, and disseminate criminal information or intelligence. One of the key responsibilities of CISC, leveraging the resources of the RCMP chief information officer sector, is the ongoing support of the automated criminal intelligence information system, known as ACIIS. ACIIS is the Canadian law enforcement community's national database for criminal information and intelligence on organized and serious crime, the only such repository in Canada.
Through ACIIS, law enforcement agencies at all levels collaborate in the collection, analysis, and sharing of criminal intelligence across the country. The information contained in ACIIS is used to support national law enforcement efforts to reduce harm caused by organized crime. The volume of intelligence information that the criminal intelligence community needs to manage has grown significantly as a result of Internet usage and of multi-media digital technologies such as voice, image, and video. As well, the evolution of organized crime requires that law enforcement agencies have more sophisticated automated systems to support the collection, analysis, and sharing of criminal intelligence information.
CSIS and the RCMP have been assessing the current information management technology needs of the criminal intelligence community and creating a vision for the future of ACIIS. The availability of new technologies can significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of analysts, investigators, and intelligence officers. Under the sponsorship of CSIS and the RCMP, five workshops have been held with respect to the development of a new national criminal intelligence system to facilitate the sharing of intelligence.
From these workshops a new vision of ACIIS was formulated, along with a set of expected outcomes. The new ACIIS will be an integrated set of applications or tools utilizing a single, shared national databank. It will operate on a desktop computer for use by all intelligence services across Canada.
There is an urgent need to replace the ACIIS with a modern system capable of meeting the business and technological demands of the criminal intelligence community in Canada. A business case for the development of the next-generation national criminal intelligence information system was forwarded to members of the ACIIS governance and CISC supervisory groups on July 23, 2009. The business case has been developed by Fujitsu Consulting in collaboration with representatives of CSIS' central bureau and CSIS' partner agencies, including the RCMP.
To give an overview of the Atlantic region, organized crime is growing increasingly complex and is consequently creating very time-consuming and resource-demanding investigations. New trends in technology, such as smartphones, pay-as-you-go services, and devices with password protection and encryption, create a challenge for law enforcement. If a suspect is in possession of a phone that contains valuable voice or text data but the password is protected, legally there is no requirement for the suspect to provide law enforcement with the password. Further, with one phone call to a service provider or by entering a series of numbers, the suspect can easily wipe the device of all information.
Our current interception laws and regulations have not kept pace with changing technologies. More than 75% of part VI applications are now cellphone-based. Every intercept is proving that text messaging is becoming a primary source of communication. However, law enforcement cannot confirm the author of a text message, creating an additional barrier in completing timely investigations. Because of disposable phones and number portability, the costs associated with intercepts are drastically increasing. An example is that when a part VI application is made, telephone numbers and service providers are given as part of the application. If a target ports the number to a different service provider or changes devices, a new part VI application must be made. This is proving to be time-consuming for law enforcement. There is nothing compelling the original service provider to notify law enforcement if a number is ported to another service provider, and there is no single database coordinating number portability.
Legislative changes are required to bring our processes more in line with the new technologies, and consequently technological resources are required to keep pace with the growing list of tools utilized by organized crime. The private member's bill, Bill , would enable telecommunication service providers to make legal access available to Canadian law enforcement and criminal intelligence services.
Although modern technology is posing many challenges for law enforcement, the RCMP has a dedicated Atlantic region tech crime unit focused on searching, seizing, and analyzing digital evidence from computers, cellphones, and electronic devices. This unit must constantly stay one step ahead of new technologies. This is often achieved by partnering with private industry experts. Recently the unit partnered with the University of New Brunswick to eliminate malicious botnets. A botnet is a new technology that allows a large network of computers to be controlled from a single source. There have been instances where organized crime has used these networks to extort money from website owners from around the world. Although there have been no websites in Atlantic Canada attacked by botnets that we are aware of, there have been many examples of computers here being controlled by botnets and used as part of an attack. This partnership is looking at new ways to eliminate network attacks.
Modern technology has enabled organized crime to rapidly expand their illegal drug trade network, which continues to be the driving force fuelling organized crime within the Atlantic region. Of the 109 organized crime groups profiled in provincial threat assessments prepared by the criminal intelligence service for each Atlantic province, 99 are involved in the illicit drug trade, and in Nova Scotia organized crime accounts for 90% of the drug trade. Most organized crime groups traffic in a variety of commodities, the most common in Nova Scotia being marijuana, cocaine, crack, ecstasy, prescription pills, and contraband tobacco.
We know that Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia are the primary source provinces within Canada. Further, hash and hash oil are often imported from Peru, Colombia, and the Middle East.
Due to the vast coastline of our province, illicit drugs and contraband cigarettes come through our ports as a gateway to reach other provinces. A recent example of a significant seizure at our ports was in conjunction with the Canada Border Services Agency. Together, CBSA and the RCMP national ports enforcement team discovered and seized approximately 28 kilograms of heroin from within a container of boxes of towels destined to an address in Toronto. It is believed to be the largest heroin seizure in Atlantic Canadian history. It led to a coordinated investigation that culminated in the arrest of four individuals from the greater Toronto area. This was a very significant seizure of heroin, as heroin seizures are almost unheard of within the Atlantic region.
A recent trend we are experiencing within the Atlantic region is the trafficking of substances that were believed to be MDMA--commonly known as ecstasy--that actually contained only a small amount of MDMA. Ecstasy is growing rapidly in popularity amongst teens and university-age students. Organized crime markets this product to youth by creating a brightly coloured tablet with popular logos and brand names stamped into the tablets to attract a younger generation and to differentiate various organized crime groups. Traffickers within Nova Scotia purchase ecstasy, or a substance sold as ecstasy, from larger organized crime groups within central and western Canada.
In 2007 a sample of tablets from seizures was analyzed, and it was determined that only one in four tablets were pure ecstasy.
Mr. Chairman and honourable members of the committee, thank you very much for inviting Canada Border Services Agency to participate in today's hearing.
The Atlantic region of the Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for securing Atlantic Canada's borders at our ports of entry, which consist of 18 land border crossings, 26 airports, 11 commercial vessel reporting stations, three ferry terminals, and seven cruise ship offices.
Of the 750 CBSA employees in the region, 430 of those are Border Services officers. Each year, nearly 500,000 air passengers, over 650,000 shipping containers, over three million passenger vehicles, and nearly 250,000 commercial trucks arrive in Atlantic Canada through our ports. Of these, CBSA conducts nearly 300,000 examinations each year. On average, CBSA in the Atlantic region takes nearly 8,000 enforcement actions each year.
In the Atlantic region in the last 20 years, CBSA has seized something in the order of $3.2 billion worth of drugs; in the last 18 months alone, somewhere in the order of $176 million worth of drugs. The majority of these drug seizures in the past two years have involved hashish from Asia and Africa and cocaine from South America. Other drugs seized to a lesser degree include heroin, hash oil, and marijuana.
Although the majority of drug shipments transit through Halifax en route to larger centres such as Montreal or Toronto, intelligence indicates that there are organized groups in the Halifax area that assist in facilitating the movement of container shipments of drugs for organized crime in larger centres. One of CBSA's challenges in identifying suspect containers is the use of legitimate companies by organized crime to conceal their drug shipments.
In the Atlantic region, we continue to have success in identifying shipments of stolen vehicles. In 2008, the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP ran a six-month project in Halifax and Montreal resulting in the seizure of 258 stolen vehicles.
The enforcement mandate of the Canada Border Services Agency is delivered through the efforts of four different groups of officers. The vast majority of our officers who work at our ports of entry, managed through a network of four district offices, through the four Atlantic provinces, each with a district director, are the Border Services officers. That is the face of CBSA. When you come back from your Christmas shopping across the border and you encounter a uniformed officer, those are Border Services officers. These officers who do all the inspections of arriving goods, conveyances, and people at our ports are the front-line protection of our borders.
Complementing the port staff are three other groups of officers, all reporting to the regional enforcement and intelligence division, which is my division. Within the enforcement and intelligence division are three sections: criminal investigations, inland enforcement, and intelligence. In addition to the core unit in Halifax, each of these functions is also located in offices in St. John's, Newfoundland, in Saint John, Fredericton, and in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Our criminal investigators are responsible, simplistically speaking, for investigating for the purposes of prosecuting activities that result in goods or people circumventing our controls at the border. In the Atlantic region, our investigators are prosecuting for a number of offences, including handgun and firearms smuggling, child pornography, and currency violations. Our CBSA investigators conduct criminal investigations into suspected cases of evasion or fraud with respect to over 80 federal acts that relate to border legislation.
Our inland enforcement officers locate and remove foreign nationals who enter Canada illegally, or individuals, including permanent residents, whose admissibility status changes after they have entered Canada. Over 50% of the people removed from the Atlantic region have been deemed inadmissible because they've been involved in criminal activity somewhere in Canada or overseas. A recent case involved a group of Irish travellers working and travelling illegally across Canada.
Finally, our intelligence officers and analysts are responsible for anticipating illegal activity that has not yet occurred and for providing actionable intelligence to all program areas so that our interdiction efforts are more effective and our officers' safety is protected. Many of the indicators used by BSOs, the Border Services officers, to identify suspicious behaviour were developed within the intelligence program. More directly related to your deliberations here today is the fact that our intelligence program is most frequently and directly involved in gathering analysis and sharing of information related to organized crime.
As you know, within the federal family the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are responsible for coordinating efforts toward curbing organized crime and investigating offences committed by organized criminals. CBSA's responsibility for our borders places us in direct contact with the cross-border components of organized criminal activity. The CBSA is ideally positioned to provide intelligence support on organized criminal activities having a border nexus to our law enforcement partners. Consequently, the CBSA, in the day-to-day execution of its duties, encounters people and information that are of value to not only our specific mandate but to others in our fight against organized crime.
It has long been recognized that the timely and full sharing of information and intelligence among law enforcement agencies is essential to our gaining insights into criminal organizations and their operations. For this reason, CBSA has historically been an active participant in the myriad of standing and ad hoc initiatives aimed at addressing threats presented by organized crime. I would like at this time to provide a brief outline of our involvement with partner agencies in these initiatives.
CBSA presently has intelligence officers embedded within the national port enforcement team based in Halifax. This unit consists of members of the RCMP, CBSA, and Halifax Regional Police. It is responsible for investigating organized crime and national security issues at marine ports. We also have an intelligence officer embedded in the integrated border enforcement team based in Woodstock, New Brunswick. We also participate in the IBET in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. These teams are composed of members of the RCMP, CBSA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
CBSA also has intelligence officers embedded within integrated intelligence units located in Saint John, Moncton, and Fredericton, New Brunswick, and we participate in units in Bathurst and Edmundston, New Brunswick. These units consist of members of the RCMP, CBSA, and local police forces.
CBSA has been an active member of the Atlantic provincial bureau of the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada for nearly two decades. CBSA staff currently hold chair positions on the executive committees of the CIS in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Finally, CBSA has several intelligence officers and analysts embedded in the Maritime Security Operations Centre located at CFB Halifax. This unit is a sister to the MSOC in British Columbia and consists of members from the RCMP, Department of National Defence, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard, and CBSA. Most recently you will have heard about the MSOC in British Columbia being involved with the vessel arriving with the Sri Lankans.
I would be very happy to answer any questions.
Thank you very much.
Thank you all for being here and for responding at such short notice to the invitation from the committee through our chair.
We had hearings in Montreal yesterday. There have been hearings in other parts of Canada. I did not participate in those because I was not on the justice committee at that point. But a common theme is coming through that in this 21st century, third millennium, there are real technological challenges, and legislation needs to be updated.
Superintendent Brennan, you mentioned lawful access, for instance. We've also heard about the disclosure rules, and how the way the system operates now creates a real burden, once charges have actually been laid, in managing all of that disclosure.
In French, we say “divulgation de la preuve“.
Disclosure laws can make the actual criminal trial process very lengthy and very burdensome.
The government has in fact tabled legislation on this issue, the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act, which I and my party are very pleased about. When we were in government, we tabled that legislation, but it did not have an opportunity to be adopted, so we're very grateful and happy that the government of the day has finally tabled it. I'm assuming that all of you who are involved in law enforcement see it as a positive development and as something that will help you.
On the disclosure rules, we had a suggestion yesterday from the Quebec bar association, which is the equivalent of your law societies, that the government may wish to amend the Criminal Code and the procedures to allow for a judge to be assigned even before a trial begins. It would be from the time that someone is actually charged with a criminal act that relates to gangsterism or organized crime. The judge would manage and render decisions as to disclosure. That would speed up the process so that when a trial actually began, most of the rulings would already have been made. I'd like to hear if you've heard of that as an idea and, if you have, what your thoughts are.
I have two other questions. With regard to the modernization of ACIIS, you said that the business case was presented or was finalized July 23, 2009. Do you have an idea of how much that would cost and how long it would take to actually implement, if the moneys were forthcoming?
Finally, in relation to the youth advocate program Chief Beazley talked about, I'd like to know about the funding. What is the budget and where are the sources of funding? It sounds as though it's working well, even though it's fairly recent. Are there similar programs elsewhere in Canada that you're aware of?
I'll let the chair decide who starts.
This one will take a little more time. I hope you don't mind.
The Halifax regional municipality, unfortunately, has a number of distinct areas throughout its community that would be considered communities at risk. We have a number of public housing initiatives--I believe seven--throughout the region. There's also what they call “affordable housing” areas, and certain blocks in the region have a large number of those. There are areas where there's long-time poverty, race, literacy, and schooling problems.
Several years ago there was a figure floating around HRM that in the African Nova Scotian community the average grade level was grade 9. When you have people who have been isolated and put into these public housing units dealing with all the things that most of us don't deal with every day, you also eventually start to get crime. People are naturally going to want the same things that everybody else has.
In 2004, as I said in my opening remarks, we were called the most violent city per capita in Canada by Statistics Canada. We changed our approach to policing in HRM at that time--a fairly dramatic approach. I met with who I thought at the time were the key ministers of the provincial government with whom I wanted to create partnerships. They included Justice, African Nova Scotian Affairs, community development, and the community resources ministry. They have a great deal of influence in the areas I was talking about.
We did an analysis of crime in HRM. The crime is not like in most cities; it's not everywhere. There are pockets of crime. People call them “hot spot” policing, but there are areas within the region that have a very high ratio of crime. We have found in our studies that 56% of all street robberies, for example, were being committed by African Nova Scotian youth.
Another thing that was shocking in our studies was that in our provincial detention centre for young offenders, over 30% of the population was African Nova Scotian youth, and 12% of the federal population is African Nova Scotian young adults. We talk a lot about youth, but young adults are very heavily involved. When I say “young adults”, that's between 15 and 27 years of age. Again, there is a very high population of African Nova Scotians.
Our strategy had to change. The first thing we did was create a committee called Safer and Stronger Communities, made up of Justice and Community Services. They supplied me with offices in the high-crime neighbourhoods, and I moved police staff into the highest-crime neighbourhoods. We would meet regularly and talk about the issues within housing.
Some of these communities were so violent we couldn't even get the Salvation Army to come in. We couldn't get other social services to come in. Taxi drivers in the city would drop people off with their groceries two blocks away from these areas and make these women with their kids walk in with their groceries. It was getting that bad at that point in time.
We did move in. We created a partnership with the provincial government, and we worked very closely with them. We're expanding that partnership with them today. Of the seven public housing areas in this region today, I now have six offices in six of the regions. I put what I call community response officers in those offices, and their jobs are not only to do policing; they do policing, but they're working with all the social agencies, education, the schools. We're holding regular meetings with housing, health, and education. We're working toward taking these children and trying to turn them another way, or at least giving them an opportunity.
For instance, in one unit we were in, we put in $200,000 and cleaned up the community. People ask me if it works. In the beginning they had 75 vacant houses within this one particular community. Today there's a waiting list to get in there. We've dropped crime in some areas of the city by 60-odd percent.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of you for being here.
I have a couple of things. Chief Beazley, you appeared before our committee on Bill , which dealt with organized crime. It was a bill that our government brought forward. I'm sure you're all aware that the bill has passed into law. We have several other initiatives now.
It dealt with drive-by shootings, reckless discharge of a firearm in a public place, and the use of firearms for intimidation by criminals. It was targeted at organized gang violence, street-level gang violence--some of the typical scenarios we're hearing about in some large centres in Canada. You mentioned them in your remarks, even with regard to Halifax.
At the time, you mentioned the need for us to improve the intercept tools police have because of the complexity of criminal investigations. I know that our Minister of Justice has been asked whether we are trying to get ahead of the criminals, and he says, no, we're just trying to catch up to where they are when it comes to technology.
You were there in April. Then in June of this year, we introduced two pieces of legislation. One deals with investigative powers for the 21st century. That's Bill . The other is Bill , technical assistance for law enforcement in the 21st century. Without going into all the details of both bills, they deal with the interception capabilities of police when dealing with organized crime.
I'd like, maybe, Chief, or Superintendent Brennan, your comments on where you think things are going next. Do you think it's important that we constantly be monitoring these things to try to at least keep up if not get ahead of where these guys are, because technology seems to be changing so quickly?
What are some of the limitations you see in your ability when it comes specifically to organized crime? That's what we're studying today. What are some of the techniques you see them using that are causing you difficulty?
Just by way of background, my background is policing, 30 years with the Ontario Provincial Police.
When it comes to funding issues, I know municipal police forces always have issues. Of course, the Province of Ontario went through some trauma that other provinces go through in a change in funding models. So there's always a need for funding.
We always want to create something new, and I always believe that perhaps instead of creating something new we just expand an existing organization so that we don't begin to create more and more administrative burdens, which, in and of themselves, create additional costs. Federally, whenever there's a problem, we throw it at the RCMP and say, you guys handle it.
From the Ontario Provincial Police, my experience has been that when you're hard put, when the chief is told by the police services board that we need something done over here all of a sudden, they don't create additional people; you have to go into your department and look for additional people and shove everything around. Very often it's one or two fewer people out there on the streets doing the day-to-day chores. That's why I think, before we create something new, we need to see if there is something existing.
The reason I say that is this committee is looking at new ways of fighting organized crime, etc. I heard a member here, who unfortunately is no longer in the room, but I'm sure she'll read it in the blues, say the federal government should absorb this cost and absorb that cost. Chief, without any insult intended here, of course you're going to say, yes, somebody else should pay the freight, because you have to fight really hard with your council to get your budget.
What I'm saying is crime is something we all deal with. It doesn't matter what level of government you're at. There are new and innovative ways of doing things, but we have this new problem and it's called technology. My personal observation is, especially when we deal with organized crime and their inventive financial ways of doing things, that instead of police forces going out and hiring the expertise, we can hire them on contract. There are ways of doing it.
I know at the OPP we were constantly asked by our provincial level of government.... We wanted to be able to show that our level of service is acceptable to the community and they actually hired somebody from university with a degree in polling, scientific polling, and they have somebody who does that.
Then we look at socio-economic issues and we expect our police force to be social workers, and that's not necessarily what police forces do, but we have a responsibility to act in a social way with our communities.
One of the things I'm going to ask the chief is of course about community-based policing. That seems to be the way most police forces across Canada deliver their policing services, and I wonder if that's the model you work under here in Halifax.
I think, Mr. Chair, it's Bill C-47 that deals with this issue of accessibility and the requirements for the providers to retain that information.
I just want to make a comment before I ask a question about the witness protection program. Chief, this is the first panel that has come up at, and I think that's probably an oversight. We should be looking at this. I initiated that study in front of the public safety committee because of concerns I had with the program.
You're being overly generous about the financial part of it. It is woefully underfunded. Municipal and provincial governments have had to step in with a large amount of dollars. There are also programs--so I'm going to take issue with you--where there are problems with the plan.
Mr. Chair, with regard to that, I think we should look at pulling some information--maybe our analysts could do that--because we never finished that study. I don't believe they ever issued a report. I think an election intervened, and I left that committee as well. So it's not my fault; it's the election's fault.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Joe Comartin: I'm pointing at the government in that regard.
When you look at the American one, one of the most impressive witnesses I've ever seen was one of the marshalls who heads that; they have an interesting one. He was an extremely impressive witness. Their program is by far the best in the world. We looked at the U.K. and Australia, although Australia's was coming along quite well at that point, and they had introduced new legislation as well.
Having made all those comments, the one question I do have.... The number of gangs--you used the number of 109, Superintendent--is that for the four Atlantic provinces or just for Nova Scotia? I wasn't clear on that, and it wasn't clear from your notes either.
Thank you very much. It's an honour to speak to you today on this obviously very important issue.
I'll break my presentation down into three parts. The first is to provide a historical overview of organized crime in this country; the second is to look at some of the lessons learned from this history and from the current trends; and the third is to make a few suggestions on possible future policy implications.
I think we know that we learn a lot about ourselves and about societal problems from our history, and it's no different with organized crime. Particularly attuned to the issue of history, in part because of my latest book, which is a history of organized crime--and if that sounds like a shameless plug for the book, it is--organized crime can in fact be traced back to pirates operating off the Atlantic coast in the 17th and 18th centuries, but more significantly, we can find a lot of precedents today in organized criminality during the 19th century. So, first and foremost, it was the issue of smuggling.
Smuggling is probably the greatest constant in the history of organized crime in Canada. During the 18th and 19th centuries, tea was the most popular contraband being smuggled into the country. Why? Because of the British mercantile policies that placed exorbitant taxes on tea. It's estimated that in the Maritimes, 90% of all tea consumed was contraband.
Liquor smuggling targeted aboriginal peoples and railway workers.
People smuggling was rampant in the late 19th century, very similar to today, with Chinese being smuggled into Canada en route to the United States, because of American immigration policies at the time.
There was large-scale cigarette smuggling in the late 19th century because of taxes on Canadian cigarettes, and opium smuggling escalated dramatically after the British government slapped a significant excise tax on opium imported into the colony of British Columbia in 1875. Soon thereafter, British Columbia actually became the largest manufacturer of smokable opium in the Commonwealth, again a precedent perhaps for the marijuana industry in B.C. today.
Quebec became a major centre for currency counterfeiting in the 19th century, and Canada was also accused of large-scale product piracy in the late 19th century, including pirating copyrighted materials, books, and music.
In the early 20th century, the two most significant developments in promoting the expansion, proliferation, power reach, and modernization of organized crime were, first, the criminalization of opium in 1908, and second, the prohibition of alcohol in the United States. You can tell that for both of these the major impetus to organized crime was government policies.
For much of the 20th century, Canadian organized crime was a branch plant of Italian American organized crime. To this end, Canada was a major conduit for the smuggling of opium and heroin into the U.S.
Regarding recent trends, one of the most recent trends in the last 20 or 30 years has been the proliferation of crime groups. In its 2007 annual report, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada estimated there were 950 known organized crime groups in Canada, an increase of nearly 20% over the previous year. The vast majority of these groups were involved in drug trafficking. In British Columbia alone, an estimated number of organized crime gangs more than doubled from 52 in 2003 to 108 in 2005.
Another recent trend has been an increase in coordination and cooperation. This has always existed, especially in international drug trafficking, because there was never one group that was able to conduct every aspect from production to retailing, but it has really increased in recent years. You see a significant increase among different crime groups, among different professional criminals.
Commensurate with this increased cooperation has been a differentiation in the structure of contemporary crime groups. This is characterized by less of a hierarchical pyramid structure, to a flatter, much more ephemeral, much more flexible cooperation between professional criminals. That's why I always question these numbers that police come up with on trying to identify the number of crime groups, because they themselves admit that there's really no such thing as a crime group any more. It's criminals getting together on a very ad hoc basis on different deals. So it's particularly difficult to try to identify a self-contained group any more.
There has been an increase in the types of criminal activities carried out. Practically everything is fair game for organized crime. There has been a return to predatory crime. Following prohibition, you saw a real emphasis on consensual crimes: drugs, gambling, and prostitution. Now you're seeing a real return to predatory crimes, including fraud. There's greater sophistication, although most crime groups historically are quite rudimentary.
The last trend is a steady diminishing of the law enforcement resources necessary to keep up with the proliferation of organized crime.
In the early part of the century we were quite successful in targeting and disbanding some of the largest drug trafficking crime groups in the world. Today, the playing field is not as level as before, and organized crime has outstripped government resources. It's really unprecedented.
Canada currently supplies an embarrassingly rich assortment of illegal and contraband goods. By the end of the 1990s, Canada had established itself as the continent's premier supplier of high-grade marijuana, methamphetamines, and ecstasy. It has become an international centre for telemarketing fraud as well as counterfeiting of currency, bank cards, and digital entertainment products. Today Canada is a branch plant and sometimes a headquarters for some of the biggest organized crime conspiracies in the world, whether it's the so-called Italian Mafia, the Hells Angels, or Chinese organized crime.
What are the lessons we've learned from the history of contemporary organized crime?
First of all, organized crime is a reflection of the societies it inhabits. There's an old saying in criminology that societies get the crime they deserve. That's very much applicable to organized crime. Organized crime exists through a complex interaction with government policies, socio-cultural traits, demand for illegal goods and services, and social conditions that give rise to or aggravate factors that put individuals at risk of offending. Governments are a crucial player in creating and sustaining organized crime by prohibiting certain goods and services demanded by the public. As we've seen throughout history, the greatest impetus to organized crime has been government policies.
Another lesson we've learned is that the more things change the more the stay the same. What goes on today is very much a reflection of the types of criminal activities that were prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries, except that modern criminals have access to better technologies and employ more sophisticated methods.
Lastly, we learned that the criminal justice system has generally failed in its efforts to combat or even control organized crime. The prohibition/enforcement model is flawed and may even produce more costs than benefits. As for future policy directions, we need to re-evaluate the prohibition/enforcement model in targeting organized crime. I'm not advocating that it be replaced; I'm simply saying that we need to have a serious, scientific debate on this model.
We need more emphasis on demand reduction. We need more resources for detox and treatment centres. We need more resources for preventative programs, more for at-risk children, especially in drug education. We need more resources for mental health programs, because there's a strong causal relationship between mental health problems and drug use.
We have to look at alternatives to the prohibition/enforcement model. Yes, that includes legalization and regulation. We need an organized crime policy based on science, on what works and what doesn't work. The prohibition/enforcement model is not based on science. Most research shows that it is not effective in controlling the problem.
We need to look at conducting a scientific cost-benefit analysis of different approaches. What are the costs? Any public policy will try to maximize benefits and minimize costs. To control the problem, we need to apply this kind of scientific policy framework to different models. What are the costs and benefits that prohibition/enforcement delivers? What is it for the decriminalization model? What is it for the legalization and regulation model? In a larger context, we need to pursue an evidence-based, scientifically informed policy on organized crime.
In the longer term, to address crime in general, we need to shift resources away from the criminal justice system to a more scientifically based, proven, proactive, and preventative approach.
The criminal justice system is inherently flawed for at least two reasons. First of all, it's largely reactive. It only responds to problems. Secondly, it addresses only the symptoms, without addressing the root causes of the problems. Moreover, there are many operational problems such as an insufficiency of resources.
We need more resources dedicated to prevention and proactive work, especially targeting at-risk communities and at-risk children. This has been shown to work. Every major scientific article on these developmental approaches to at-risk children shows that they work if they're implemented properly. This includes addressing organized crime, because it not only addresses demand issues—effective drug prevention works best in schools—but it also addresses the factors that put kids at risk of future offending, either on an organized or unorganized basis, so you address both the supply and demand with preventive programs for at-risk kids.
To this end we need to build more schools, recreation centres, hockey rinks, health care centres—not more prisons. We also will always need enforcement. Even if we had legalization of all drugs, we're still going to have an organized crime problem, so we need more effective enforcement, intelligence-led enforcement—integrated units are very effective. Most of all, we need to work better at the international level, because crime groups recognize the boundaries and barriers to law enforcement on the international level and definitely take advantage of those.
Thank you very much. I'll end it there.
Just as another clarification, while I was once counsel for the Province of Nova Scotia, I am now the executive director of the public safety and security division of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.
I do thank you for the opportunity to meet and speak on behalf of the department to this committee on this most serious issue. I come today to share our views on the state of organized crime and offer suggestions that you may consider in making recommendations to the House of Commons.
I know our time for comments is short, so I am pleased that my presentation follows the police panel. With their backdrop, I can begin by saying that Nova Scotia is not immune to organized crime. To put it in context, organized crime by its very nature is not exclusively that which is portrayed in Hollywood, and for that reason it should not be surprising that it has the potential to impact every community in Canada and in Nova Scotia.
As you know, the definition of a criminal organization is as follows: as few as three or more persons acting together and having, as one of its main purposes or activities, the commission of a serious offence whereby it directly or indirectly benefits. In other words, in this province we are not just talking about outlaw motorcycle gangs or mafia groups, but rather far smaller groups of street gangs that trade for their benefit in illicit drugs and stolen goods and participate in other criminal activity.
Our police colleagues have identified for you that Nova Scotia experiences its share of violent crime that they and our joint intelligence service believe is directly related to organized crime. As you know, and you've heard Chief Beazley say this morning, HRM in 2004 was considered, according to Statistics Canada's general social survey, as having the highest rate of violent victimization in Canada.
One of the ways the Department of Justice is combatting this is through the Criminal Intelligence Service Nova Scotia; I'll refer to it as CISNS. To quote it, “Organized crime doesn't only happen on TV. It happens in Nova Scotia. And it affects your life every day.” We also know that organized crime groups have been identified outside Halifax. Therefore, this is not exclusively a big-city phenomenon.
Where might the situation differ in Nova Scotia? Elsewhere in Canada, the criminal picture implicates high-profile organized crime groups with global links. In contrast, CISNS wrote that Nova Scotia's drug trade includes mainly local, independent trafficking networks. As you've heard today, and from my experience in 25 years—almost 20 of which were here in Nova Scotia—we know that the international and national folks have their paws in Nova Scotia. In particular, that is in relation to our vast coastlines and extensive container activity at our ports. Drugs, cybercrime, street gangs, grow ops, firearms, child exploitation, and illegal tobacco sales are all activities we deal with within the confines of Nova Scotia.
So what have we done in the province and what are we going to do? Let me first say that our response must recognize, as earlier stated, that organized crime is not just a big-city phenomenon and our collective efforts must be designed to promote safety and security of all Nova Scotians.
The Department of Justice has taken this very seriously, and we have responded in a multifaceted manner. We believe the response to organized crime is through collaborative efforts of our law enforcement agencies and partners. We know we will need to continue to work hard, but we also must work smarter and in a strategic, adaptable manner.
In 2005, the province supplied additional funding to CISNS. At that time, it was for 7 positions; we expanded the funding to increase it to 26 positions for analysts and local intelligence officers who are located all across Nova Scotia.
Again, our efforts must be to ensure the safety and security for all of Nova Scotia. This is consistent with the provincial interest in addressing the challenges of organized crime.
CISNS allows law enforcement agencies to be intelligence-led and strategically focused. What's more, in 2007, through the intelligence and community consultations with communities throughout Nova Scotia by the Department of Justice, we were told that enforcement efforts would be required to be enhanced and increased police resources were required in Nova Scotia.
The province has supported, and continues to support, the extra enforcement from a financial perspective. In the past two years, since the inception of the additional officer program, the province has funded positions for every municipality in Nova Scotia. That means that as of now there are at least 150 more police officers on the streets in Nova Scotia than there were two years. That investment was part of our crime prevention strategy, which I'll be happy to talk about after because it does not only include enforcement, but it was a focus on intervention and prevention to get at the root causes of crime.
To give you some insight, the two largest municipalities in Nova Scotia, the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, have been funded the most. For example, in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Chief Beazley has been provided with over 50 officers per year, for a total of 50 officers per year, and that is in excess of $5 million funding per year. In fact, Superintendent Donnie Spicer, who was with him this morning, was one of the positions we funded for them for their public safety program.
With more resources spread across the province, it is now our desire and challenge to ensure that these additional resources are available and ready to work closely with our provincial police service in order to strategically target provincial priorities and mutual local priorities, which clearly would include organized crime.
Currently, we have 60-plus officers situated throughout Nova Scotia, primarily working in integrated teams with the provincial police; they are known as street crime enforcement teams. These units target local issues in an integrated manner, as crime respects no borders.
Other officers are assigned to school safety resource officers, proceeds of crime, integrated child exploitation, and CISNS. Therefore, in our view, we have the resources provincially funded to strategically target organized crime through our additional officer program and provincial police service. Our goal will be to remain intelligence-led and strategically focused. This will allow us to respond to organized crime activity.
In the upcoming year, we will call upon our municipal partners, who have provincially funded positions with them, to work together to combat organized crime. It is our belief that we must now shift our focus to emerging and new targets, including organized crime and other priorities. This can be accomplished by having the officers who I've mentioned throughout Nova Scotia. The challenge will be to ensure that we have the flexibility to call upon them to work on the projects that need to be worked on--in police language, operationalize or go tactical. If we operate singularly we will not succeed. It is our belief that all levels of government must operate collectively to achieve safety and security in our communities.
So what's next? We are optimistic that the additional officer program has turned the corner to providing a forum so that the provincial police service and municipal police services can work collaboratively together. We will continue to promote this.
I will conclude with two suggestions we have for you to consider. I have stated earlier that Nova Scotia is blessed with vast coastlines and port activity, but these same natural wonders and economic stimulants are also opportunities for organized crime. We must, as I said earlier, work collectively with the federal government to enhance the security at our ports through integrated effort, and I think more discussion needs to be had with the federal government level to decide. You've heard much this morning about the intelligence-led projects there, but we need to be able to take intelligence-led projects and make them tactical and operational.
The federal 2,500 police officers program was a good start to add federal officers to work on collaborative issues, but it must be sustainable. It had a five-year sunset clause. We would like to have discussions with the federal government to see if that program could be made sustainable beyond five years.
I'd like to end on a positive note. Our crime rates have continued to drop in Nova Scotia since 2006. Together with our partners we have worked very hard to help make that happen. I am optimistic that we will be able to effectively tackle organized crime in the same manner.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I'd be happy to take questions.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Robert Purcell: On the technological challenges, what I can tell you is that I do participate on the national coordinating committee on organized crime, or NCC, at the federal level, and my colleague Fred Sanford, who is here today, sits on the regional coordinating committee.
Lawful access, in every organized crime form, has been one of the number one priorities brought forward by law enforcement for the last several years. It has been brought forward to NCC; it has been brought forward, at least in previous years, to the federal-provincial-territorial meetings of ministers of justice, who are meeting in just a couple of weeks in Fredericton, and I suspect it will be a topic of some discussion there.
All I can tell you on that is that I've heard the merits by law enforcement. From my understanding, it has been one of their primary concerns, because to go the wiretap route is an essential component for them and they need these legislative changes to help them.
On ACIIS, it has been said by many an inquiry that the police agencies need a single database from which to work. Again, at the national coordinating committee on organized crime, ACIIS has been selected as the go-forward. The business case is being developed, and we are now waiting on cost and timelines from the governance committee.
On disclosure, to what was discussed here this morning at the previous panel I can add only a couple of things. The idea of a judge dealing with disclosure matters prior to a trial came up when I was in the criminal law policy program area, in the context of mega trials, which would often include organized crime matters. It is something that certainly warrants a further look.
I don't want to take all the time from Mr. Schneider, so I'll stop there.
As an addendum to that, I agree with everything Robert said.
The idea of technology is to me almost ancillary to the bigger issue, and that is of law enforcement resources--in particular personnel. The most effective organized crime enforcement is not in technology, and it's not even in laws; it's in the police forces. It's in experienced, integrated best practices that work.
Bob worked for years at the RCMP. I've worked for the RCMP for years, and I've worked in the private sector with a number of retired RCMP members. The private sector generally hired the best and the brightest of the RCMP. And I was amazed at the differences once they hit the private sector, when you had this core of really elite investigators and what they were able to do.
Another issue as well is police cooperation. ACIIS has been generally a failure. We've pumped millions of dollars into it, but police forces aren't willing to input the data into that database. It's similar with Stats Canada, which does surveys, and of course the The Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. They've added a new element where the police are supposed to report on when they lay charges under section 467--a criminal organization charge--and that's been a failure because the police aren't entering the data.
Historically, one of the big problems in Canada has been the lack of cooperation between police forces, similar to the United States and similar to many other countries. We've overcome that obstacle quite a bit. There's excellent cooperation now, but we still have a long way to go in the sense of sharing information. Police are very jurisdictional about the information, for good reason. Some of it is empire building and some of it is disclosure issues.
So the issue to me is not technology. It's not even criminal laws. It's being able to give police forces the resources, the training, and the expertise to enable them to adequately target these very sophisticated organized crime groups.
On the second question raised specifically to me.... Conceptually, we could look at four different models when attacking crime and organized crime in particular. The first is what I call a prohibition/enforcement model--
Mr. Schneider, you placed the problem of organized crime within a historical context, and it was very interesting. You are absolutely right: there is no criminal organization more typical than a pirate ship with a captain, officers and seamen who obey more or less voluntarily and who they too are controlled by way of threat and the love of gain.
I wish to thank you for reminding us of the various prohibitions brought about by criminal organizations. I agree with you in saying that organized crime is the manifestation of a social ill that can only be managed through criminal law. You most certainly know that this is our concern here. We wish to arm ourselves with the most appropriate legal tools without hindering... Your presentation was most interesting.
I also found Mr. Purcell's presentation very interesting, but what the committee is seeking to understand are not the various forms of complicity that exist. I believe you are able to distinguish between complicity and organized crime. For example, if several members of the same family agree to exploit their aged parents and deprive them of their fortune, there exists an organization, but this is not what we consider to be organized crime.
Mr. Purcell, you stated that in Nova Scotia there are 99 criminal organizations. My impression is that there is not a major organized crime problem. When we talk about organized crime, we think of something that is being carried out on a large scale. We think of well-structured organizations involving many people gaining large profits and advantages. These organizations are managed with an iron fist and have the means to establish monopolies through a well targeted use of violence, etc.
It is odd to find ourselves here, in Nova Scotia, and to be told that there are in place 99 organized crime groups, when we have just come back from Montreal, where we were told that there were two: the Hells Angels and the mafia. These are the two organizations that are of concern to us. Whatever the sociological reasons are, I fully agree with you that drug trafficking will necessarily breed organizations. If we remove drug trafficking, there will be something else, be it alcohol, tea or illegal cigarettes. But cigarette bans are based on public health objectives.
Could you talk to us about the situation in Nova Scotia? I know that the Hells Angels used to be in the province, but it seems that they are no longer here. No one talked to me about the mafia. You all talk of small groups and street gangs, but no one has mentioned the importance that organizations comparable to the Hells Angels have had. In the end, organized crime is virtually non-existent in Nova Scotia, although crime groups from elsewhere, from Central Canada, Quebec or Ontario sometimes come here. Am I right in saying that?
The causes of crime and violence are very complex. There is no one causal factor, but what you've seen in recent years, not just in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, or Ontario, is the confluence of a number of factors.
First of all, you have increased competition between small groups. So when Quebec targeted the Hells Angels, they really disrupted a major wholesaler of drugs. It opened an avenue for a number of groups to come in and take their place as wholesalers. So you had increased cooperation. I don't want to say this, but the one good thing that could be said about the Hells Angels was that, notwithstanding the bloody war they had in Quebec, when they emerged from that, they tended to control smaller groups and stop them from fighting.
The second reason is that you've seen a growing underclass of young men who live in poverty, who live in terrible conditions. In Halifax, we're talking about places like East Preston, Mulgrave Park, parts of Spryfield. I work in these communities with at-risk kids, and the conditions there are absolutely terrible.
For years, Canada looked to the United States and said, “Oh, we don't have the type of inner-city ghettos and concentration of poverty that the United States has.” Well, guess what? We do have that now, and to ignore that would be naive.
I would argue that one of the most significant factors that's driving the increase in violence—and in fact we are seeing an increase in violence, an increase in gangs—is this growing subclass or underclass of young men, racialized young men. In Nova Scotia it's primarily African Nova Scotians, and that is again because African Nova Scotians disproportionately live in poverty, in terrible communities. You go to public government subsidized housing—and I'll take you down to Mulgrave Park just a couple of blocks from here. You'll find it's 80% African Nova Scotian. That's the product of the long institutionalized racism that's been present in this province.
Thank you very much, and thank you to the witnesses.
To Mr. Purcell, since we share a similar background, one of the things we did as junior managers in the Ontario Provincial Police when we were looking at ways of going about tackling crime—and I notice you alluded to the street gangs in your testimony.... In the special squads we call them street crimes. Intelligence-based...we did that. But one of the things I was involved in—somewhat of a sociological part of it—was that we looked at one of the highest crime areas in North America back in the 1970s and 1980s, and that was in New York in the social housing area.
One of the common denominators for criminal activity, especially property crimes, was that people who committed property crimes were people who didn't own property and therefore didn't value property. And of course the other common denominator was literacy—in other words, levels of education.
They looked at areas of crime activity—and of course that comes back to the Halifax Regional Municipality—and the area was the Bronx, which today happens to be one of the better places to live in New York. They looked at social housing. People who lived in social housing were less educated and didn't have a trade.
There is going to be a point to this.
We looked at the people who committed crimes. The people who committed the big crimes were also the people who committed the little crimes. So the guys you arrested or stopped for jaywalking or failing to pay their parking tickets ended up being the guys who were committing the murders and those other crimes. The criticism of police forces was, “Well, why don't you go out there and catch the big guys? You're after the little guys.” But the little guys happened to be creating the big crimes also.
So what am I saying? I'm saying, would you not agree that if governments looked at social housing...? One of the things they said in New York was, “Okay, well, let's do this. Let's take a look at the people. How do we get them to change their lifestyles?” So they taught people trades, but they took away the social housing aspect and said, “You people need to own your own properties,” and of course they came up with co-op housing.
The next thing they needed were trades, so that instead of hiring somebody to fix the social housing, they actually trained people to paint, to fix the plumbing, and to be electricians and those other trades. The people became owners of their own properties, and they didn't want somebody damaging their property or putting graffiti on their property and they took ownership of their property.
So if I said to you that the Government of Canada currently, through employment insurance, has increased exponentially the amount of training we're giving people who are unemployed to upgrade their skills.... And then we go outside of the employment insurance scheme, and we then said that even people who aren't on employment insurance will have an opportunity to train.
Then we looked at policing and we said that provinces and municipalities need extra police officers as well as the federal government's own police force, the RCMP—1,500 additional RCMP officers. And in your particular case here in this area you said somewhere in the vicinity of 250 police—and I imagine some of the money going towards those police officers was as a result of the federal government's contribution across the country to increasing the number of police officers.
My question to you is this, Mr. Purcell, because I've been out of policing for so long. I know when we were talking about telemarketers—
This is what I was referring to. If I may answer the first part, I'm sure Stephen will have some things to say.
I can't give you the exact number. What I can say is that we certainly subscribe to the idea that—and everyone uses different figures—10% to 20% of the people do 50% of the crime. That's why I say we have to continue to work hard, but we have to work smarter. We have to find out who the 10% to 20% are and spend our time going after them, because if they're doing 50% of the crime, that's where we're going to have our biggest impact.
Stephen talked about police and law enforcement having so many things to do. That's why we believe that you have to be intelligence-led and it's why we have, I think, a pretty robust intelligence-led community. They need to be able to put things in the queue, and we need to prioritize them with some of the things that Superintendent Brennan was talking about, OCTAC and groups that will say, here's all the activity going on, and ask—Stephen made some mention of it—whether they should do this or do that.
We have to become strategically focused so that the intelligence comes up and we start picking off the most important things.
Even with the 10% to 20% who do 50% of the crime, that's not to say they're thrown into a never-never land and not dealt with. A good crime reduction program should have the opportunity to try to turn them around and make them valuable citizens.
Some may say this isn't about organized crime. I think these plans are about everything. In our view, as I said, we're as concerned about these street gang activities, which we believe could be considered, in a broad sense, organized crime.
I'd like to follow up on the issue of the nature of organized crime in Nova Scotia.
Organized criminals go where the money is and where their markets are--Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Fort McMurray, when cash was going in there. Nova Scotia has attracted organized crime, as Bob mentioned, because of our coastline.
The Hells Angels chapter was shut down here, and that's an interesting case study. Why were we as a society or as law enforcement able to shut down this chapter, which is very rarely done in this country? That might be a successful case study to look at.
One of the reasons is that the Quebec Hells Angels, which controlled the Halifax chapter, said they didn't need a chapter there any more because they could control the ports from Sherbrooke. They deemed the Halifax chapter generally irrelevant because Sherbrooke took over the smuggling operations at the port here. The Italian Mafia also saw Nova Scotia as very attractive to smuggle hash and cocaine into this province.
In general, you find the major crime groups in major cities, but they will also move to other provinces for strategic reasons. The reason the Hells Angels set up shop in B.C., Halifax, and Montreal is quite obvious. They are all port cities and very strategic in that sense.
To answer your question, Halifax is very attractive as a major cocaine and hashish smuggling route. It's also a major outport for stolen vehicles from Montreal. The port is used to export cars that are mostly stolen in Montreal. It all comes down to our port and to our coastline. We're not a big enough market for drugs to make it attractive for the presence here of organized crime for marketing. It's more of a conduit into and out of the country. Both the Montreal Rizzuto family and the Hells Angels still have a presence in this province at the port and use it for smuggling into and out of the country.