Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
As presented, my name is Don Dixon, and I'm the director general of Criminal Intelligence Service Canada. Today I am joined by our deputy director general, who is responsible for operations within the Criminal Intelligence Service community. His name is William Garrick.
Our comments today are intended to give you some situational awareness about Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, commonly referred to as CISC.
We comprise nearly 400 law enforcement agencies from across Canada. Since our inception in 1970, CISC has clearly been a leader in the development of an integrated and intelligence-led approach to tackling organized crime in our country. Our fundamental purpose is to facilitate the timely production and exchange of criminal intelligence within the Canadian law enforcement community.
CISC, specifically the central bureau, which is represented here today by William and me, is based here in Ottawa. We are administered under the stewardship of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and we take our direction from a national executive committee that is chaired today by the Commissioner of the RCMP and co-chaired by the director general of the Sûreté du Québec. This national executive committee is represented by 22 senior Canadian law enforcement executives, including police chiefs.
Our agency is responsible for the delivery of strategic intelligence products and services to the national law enforcement community and government. We serve as a national centre of excellence, I believe, in support of the effort to combat organized crime in our country. Our bureau in Ottawa also provides leadership, strategic direction, and administrative support to the national CISC program for families.
We are complemented by 10 provincial bureaus that operate independently while maintaining a national service delivery standard. By that, I mean that as we receive our direction from the national executive committee, they, in turn, receive direction from their provincial executive committees. They focus specifically on criminal intelligence activities within their respective provinces and provide leadership and guidance in the collection, analysis, and production of strategic intelligence products and services, specifically at the provincial level.
The intelligence collected and analysed through the provincial bureaus is instrumental in the creation of the national intelligence products and services delivered by the CISC central bureau. We produce approximately 12 products throughout the year.
Embedded in the central bureau is a strategic analytical service that is responsible specifically for the production of various strategic intelligence products, including the annual release of the national threat assessment, the national criminal intelligence estimate, and the report on organized crime in Canada each year.
The strategic analytical service also develops and implements a strategic early warning methodology, used by all the bureaus, which is a system that enhances current law enforcement practices with a proactive approach to crime. Its aim is to control, if that's possible, or prevent it.
The CISC criminal intelligence service report on organized crime, which I referred to, provides the public with important information regarding organized crime. It highlights some of the ways criminal groups can victimize Canadians. CISC believes that an informed public is better able to protect itself from the threat posed by organized crime. The report also includes information regarding the dynamics of criminal intelligence groups, or criminal groups, their methods, their modus operandi, and the criminal markets within which they operate.
I would like to give you a sense of the status of organized crime in Canada and speak to the foundation of the organized crime marketplace.
In developing the national threat assessment, which I spoke to earlier, CISC builds upon developing integrated threat assessment methodologies and assesses organized crime in Canada, specifically from a criminal market perspective. Each market is examined thoroughly with regard to its scope and magnitude and in terms of the dynamics of organized crime groups and their specific involvement.
The main criminal markets assessed by us are illicit drugs, contraband tobacco, illegal gambling, illicit firearms, cyber crime, intellectual property rights, humans as a commodity, financial crime, and vehicle-related offences such as theft.
While the criminal marketplace is evolving, several key findings remain consistent over time. The following observations, which have been made over seven years, are considered to be the mainstays of the Canadian organized crime marketplace. For example, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, southern Ontario, and greater Montreal regions are considered to be the primary criminal hubs, with both the largest concentration of criminal groups as well as the most active and dynamic criminal markets.
The illicit drug market remains the largest criminal market in terms of extent, scope, and degree of involvement by the majority of the organized crime groups--more than 80%. Where law enforcement successes have disrupted or dismantled specific crime groups, regrettably this impact tends to be short term. It creates a temporary void into which market expansion occurs, or creates opportunities for well-situated organized criminal groups to exploit. In general, criminal markets are highly resistant to long-term disruption, as they continue to exist in direct response to meeting consumer demands in this country.
Many organized crime groups have the capability and capacity to exploit international borders. International linkages, maintained by several groups, ensure that the supply and distribution chains for a number of commodities remain strong and vibrant. In addition, strategically located areas on the Canadian and the United States border provide significant opportunities for the movement of illegal commodities and people, without requiring large or sophisticated operations.
Exploitation and infiltration of legitimate businesses by organized crime groups play a critical role in undermining public confidence in a number of legitimate markets while contributing to the resilience of many organized crime groups. In some cases, legitimate businesses enable groups to launder money and funds; facilitate criminal activity, for instance, through the use of import and export companies; comingle licit and illicit goods; as well as further insulate many groups from law enforcement action.
For our 2008 national threat assessment, more than 900 organized crime groups were identified as operating in Canada. For analytical purposes within the CISC family, we have categorized them into four levels of threat.
Category one groups, or the upper echelon, as we've referred to it, pose the most significant level of threat based on their role, scope, and criminal activities, which are primarily national and international. Further, there is the category one watch list that we maintain, and these are the groups that demonstrate an emergent, significant threat level. There are no less than 16 groups within the upper echelon.
Category two groups, which we keep track of, are those groups that operate with international or interprovincial scope. In Canada today there are more than 300 such groups.
Category three groups are confined to a single province, but they encompass more than one area, meaning more than one city or region. There are more than 100 such groups operating in Canada.
Our category four, which we'd probably be most familiar with, are the groups that are confined to a single area, such as a town or a city. There are more than 430 of these groups operating in Canada.
In the year 2008, 78% of the organized crime groups were active in the illicit drug trade. This is consistent with the previous year and down somewhat from 2006, when 81% were involved in such activity. The financial crime market is the second most significant market, with the involvement of 12% of the total organized crime groups in Canada, meaning 12% of more than 970 organized crime groups.
The integrated provincial threat assessments, which we receive at the national level from all 10 of our bureaus, are utilized specifically by local and provincial law enforcement agencies to determine their exact priorities in combatting organized crime.
As well, the national threat assessment is used by a new committee, which was set up more than a year and a half ago through CACP, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. This group is called the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime. This committee is made up of senior law enforcement officials from each of the provinces and territories across this country and is currently chaired by a deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and the senior deputy commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
This group is there to assist in determining the strategic law enforcement priorities to combat organized crime. Both William and I are an integral part of this group to ensure that priorities being discussed within this milieu are available to us so that we have an understanding of the scope and span of activities that are going on across this country.
The overall impact of organized crime, I must say, is not easily measured, but is significant due to the spectrum of criminal markets operating in Canada. Some forms of criminal activity are highly visible and affect individuals and communities on a daily basis, such as street-level drug-trafficking, assaults, violence, and, most certainly, intimidation. Conversely, more covert operations, such as mortgage fraud, vehicle theft, and identity fraud, pose long-term threats to Canadian institutions and consumers.
Our annual report on organized crime is a product of a coordinated law enforcement community effort that provides Canadians with situational awareness, an overview of organized crime activities across this country, and the scope of these operations within Canadian communities. The report on organized crime is produced by Criminal Intelligence Service Canada with the aim of informing all Canadians of the socio-economic effect organized crime has on our communities, and it encourages the public to continue to collaborate and work cooperatively with law enforcement to combat organized crime.
Mr. Chairman, those are our opening comments. Thank you.
My name is Steve Brown. I'm appearing before you today because some gangster murdered my brother-in-law, Ed Schellenberg. Ed was not only my brother-in-law but he was my business partner, and he was also my friend. Ed was murdered on October 19, 2007, execution style, while he knelt in front of the gas fireplace he was repairing. He was doing his job.
Ed's story actually starts in 2002, when eight people, four youths and four adults, beat a 16-year-old boy to death with baseball bats and iron pipes at a karaoke bar in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The four adult males, although charged with second degree murder, were offered plea bargains to manslaughter. A judge sentenced each of the four adults to an 18-month conditional sentence for beating somebody to death. They were basically sent to their rooms for 18 months. A subsequent sentence appeal by the crown was denied.
When we fast forward to October 19, 2007, I was awakened while I was snoozing in front of my TV by the sound of our phone ringing. It was 9:35 p.m. and Lois Schellenberg was calling to ask why, at this late hour, Ed would still have any reason to be working. He was not at home and he was not answering his cell phone. I said I knew absolutely nothing about it and thought it very strange. If Ed had problems on the job, he probably would have called me.
It wasn't until we started to hear the news reports that evening that emergency personnel had been called to the same high-rise where we had been working all that week and where Ed was working that day--where they discovered the bodies of six adult males, all shot to death in one suite on the 15th floor of that high-rise--that we knew something horrible must have happened to Ed. We knew that Ed was going into suite 1505 and that it was the last service call he was going to do in the whole complex.
Since then we've learned that, of the four gangbangers targeted and killed in that suite along with Ed, two of them, named Michael Lal and Eddie Narong, were in fact two of the four adults convicted in the manslaughter beating of the 16-year-old boy in the karaoke bar in Coquitlam, which I mentioned previously. In the time between their brush with the law in 2002 and their deaths in 2007, Narong and Lal amassed a breathtaking total of 48 criminal offences, serious charges including drug trafficking, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, possession of restricted weapons, resisting arrest, and breach of recognizance. In Narong's case, he was charged with 15 counts of breaching his bail conditions, but he was still out on the streets because each time he was brought before a judge he was granted bail yet again. In 2005, Michael Lal was convicted of several drug trafficking offences and of five counts of breaching bail conditions. His sentence for that was another 17-month conditional sentence.
I believe I can reasonably argue that if these two persons, Lal and Narong, were handed sentences appropriate to their crimes, they would have been in jail and Ed Schellenberg would likely still be alive today. We asked ourselves how something like this could happen in our country. How could this happen?
This is what we found out. We've gone on this journey. We've gone on a very steep learning curve to try to answer these questions. Why was Ed murdered?
We are presently experiencing in British Columbia what I would call a perfect storm of lawlessness and injustice around this gang violence on the streets. Let me share with the members of the committee what I believe are the conditions that have come together to create this perfect storm. I can assure you that Ed's story is not a one-off; it is in fact the tip of the iceberg in British Columbia.
Over the last five years the number of these street gangs operating in the Vancouver area has grown from just a handful to well over a hundred. The reason this is happening is this. We have learned that there's been a complete failure in our justice system to hand out appropriate sentences for the offences that these gangsters are charged with under the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. I'm saying a complete failure, and I'm not overstating it. I've been told by a criminologist who's been studying the crime statistics for over a 30-year period in B.C. He's told me that I cannot overstate the situation we're in in British Columbia.
On the federal level, let's take grow ops as one example. Everybody knows grow ops are a big business in B.C.--at least $8 million a year. The marijuana is distributed by organized crime and they trade it for heroin and illegal handguns south of the border, and money laundering is also very much involved. Yet in B.C.--and get this--the statistics show that for every 100 grow ops only three or four of those grow ops that encounter our justice system result in any kind of punishment like jail time. That means 96 out of the 100 get away scot-free. Is this a good message to send to organized crime?
Let me explain just how we have found out the justice system falls on its own sword. If you start with those 100 grow ops, 35% of the time our police treat them as non-cases. They seize the plants; they seize the equipment. They tell them they've been naughty boys and girls. So 35% of our tax dollar is going to policing a controlled substance. The police are shooting blanks. Out of that 100, that leaves 65 grow ops. Of those remaining 65, 42% of the time our federal prosecutors stay the drug charges--42%. So what are we paying for? That leaves 37 grow ops that make it to our courts in B.C.
So what happens there? Historic figures show that only 9% of the total number of grow ops and the charges, having gone through the courts in B.C., actually result in a sentence that includes jail time. The average length of that jail sentence is only three months, and they only get fined, on average, $1,200, and this is after they have stolen hydro to run the grow op at around $1,800. Do we have any doubt why we have an organized crime and street gang problem in B.C? This is just one element of the perfect storm.
What we've learned on the provincial side is mind-boggling. In British Columbia we're experiencing an epidemic of plea bargains. Plea bargains are arranged for over 90% of the serious charges before our provincial courts--the number is actually 95%. Now, think about that. In B.C. a plea bargain is done behind closed doors by two lawyers and then it's presented to a judge for rubber stamping. There are no arguments; there is no public hearing. There's no giving of that evidence.
Members of Parliament have passed and are introducing laws that certain kinds of offences will carry a mandatory minimum sentence. However, in British Columbia--and I can assure you it's happening now--the police will lay the charge at that level that carries a mandatory minimum, but the provincial crown will plead down from that. It's happening all the time, and Ed's case is the only case in point I need to articulate on that.
Overriding everything that's happening in British Columbia, there is a shocking trend toward leniency in the judiciary around sentencing. Our sentencing judges must follow the B.C. Court of Appeal guidelines, which frankly make a mockery of the maximum sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.
To sum it up, the trial judges impose sentences far below even these weak guidelines established at the B.C. appellate level, and the public is completely bewildered by what's going on. The judiciary's failure to appropriately address these criminals the first, the second, or even the tenth time before the courts has created, in my view, a new class of psychopathic career criminals. They have such contempt for the police, for the courts, for you lawmakers, and now for even members of the public--Ed Schellenberg. But there have been actually four innocent victims of this gang violence over the last two years: Ed Schellenberg, Chris Mohan, Kirk Holifield, and Jonathan Barber.
Members, do you realize that in the Vancouver area we have drug-addicted property crime offenders with more than 100 convictions who are still on the streets? What happens to them is that once they reach the 50 conviction threshold, their sentences are reduced. Any time they spend in jail is reduced--from the 50 to 100 level. Is that what we want to be known for? Is that a good message to send to people who can't control their own behaviour?
We've heard a lot of talk about the two for one on the remand. In British Columbia, literally, it's a joke. The defence lawyers are allowed to delay and delay, and they dictate the sentences for their clients. The justice system, the good guys, we don't have a say in it.
On the handguns, in 2008 there were over 50 gang hits in the Greater Vancouver area, a record. To date, in 2009, there are 33. The situation is out of control. In handgun offences, the charges are stayed all the time--not enough evidence. They have loaded assault rifles, they have hidden compartments, handguns with silencers, and charges are stayed--not enough evidence.
That wasn't the case 10 years ago. So what has changed? It's this new brand of criminal that's been created, the gangsters. They wear body armour. They're being arrested and found with military-style weapons. And they're driving armoured vehicles. Yet with all of those things in mind, in British Columbia they still get bail. Something is terribly wrong in British Columbia. When we see conditional sentences for manslaughter, which is murder, an 18-month conditional sentence, what's the message we're sending about the value of a human life? I believe the criminal justice system has rewarded and enabled this anti-social behaviour. There is no fear of consequences to act as a deterrent. Really, the sentencing around these gangsters is laughable.
All I can say about bail is that in British Columbia the people you think should never get bail always get bail. Even though more people are remanded, these dangerous psychopathic career criminals get bail every time. The public is at a loss. No matter how psychopathic their behaviour, or how their presence in the community poses a substantial public safety risk, everybody gets bail, it seems. I believe British Columbians have been backed into a constitutional corner on this one issue alone. These people are being released onto the streets after serious criminal charges, but they reoffend while on conditional sentence all the time. There are no consequences. They are a menace to themselves, a menace to society.
I just want to introduce you to Ed.
Edward James Schellenberg was a brother, uncle, friend, loving husband, and proud father of Rachael and Kevin. Ed was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed fishing on the Great Slave Lake for monster lake trout, hunting and guiding in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, camping with family and friends beside beautiful rivers filled with rainbow trout, hiking and backpacking through rugged terrain, and then relaxing at the end of the day gazing at the brilliant blanket of twinkling stars lighting the night sky. He appreciated all of his Creator's handiwork.
Ed was an honest businessman and a hard-working provider for his family. He was a skilled tradesman, often repairing things that others had long since given up on. He treated his customers with respect and kindness, always doing his best to leave them satisfied with a job well done. He could often be convinced to stay for a cup of tea and a visit. He took the time to get to know his customers, enjoying the interaction. He was committed to giving his customers his best effort.
October 19, 2007, was the end of a long week of work. Ed worked long days, but today he hoped to be home a little earlier as he and his co-workers, brother-in-law Steve and his son Zach, were finishing off the apartment building they had been working on all week. The last suite was suite 1505. It was around three o'clock in the afternoon that he headed to the penthouse. I don't really know what went on in suite 1505, but that day the lives of our family and the Mohan family changed forever.
People have said Ed was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That statement is far from the truth. You see, he was doing his job. He had a commitment to service the fireplace in that suite. He had every right and reason to be there. Likewise Chris Mohan—it was his home, a home he shared with his family. Both our families were innocent law-abiding Canadian citizens, unaware of the evil that threatened us from behind our neighbour's door.
The past sixteen and a half months have been a roller coaster of emotions: shock, anger, disbelief, denial, incredible grief, and untold loss. Our lives have been forever changed by people and circumstances we had no control over and could never have fathomed happening to our family.
Ed won't walk his daughter down the isle on her wedding day or see his son as the man he will become. His life was taken by evil men who had no regard for the lives they destroyed. Their motivation is greed: greed for power, greed for money.
These are issues that need to be addressed here today to ensure that a day like October 19 doesn't happen to another family. As members of Parliament, you wanted this job, and we gave it you. You now have the responsibility that comes with the job, to lead this country. We expect nothing less.
I'm not here today to talk politics, but rather to encourage you to work together—all parties, all levels of government, businessmen and women, and private citizens. Together we need to tackle the issues of public safety that are raging out of control in British Columbia.
I'm just going to put the picture of my son here. This is my son, Christopher Mohan.
Honourable members of the justice committee, I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be a witness as a victim of crime and mostly to be the voice of my son.
My name is Eileen Mohan, and I'm the mother of Chris Mohan. My innocent son was murdered on October 19, 2007, as he left our home to go to play his weekly basketball game. He was in his seventh season. When rival gang members came to murder rival gang members, along the way they met my son in the building and took his life because they saw him as a witness.
I had just spoken to my son an hour or so before he was murdered. Chris was my only son, the younger of my two children, the baby of our home, and he remains the light and love of my life.
Prior to October 19, I was, honourable members, Mrs. Eileen Mohan. Today I sit before you as Miss Eileen Mohan; my 28 years of marriage has ended. The brutal murder of my son took a toll on our personal lives and led me to take the role of an advocate for my son, while my wounded husband left to be on his own to ensure his emotional survival.
Life has certainly not been kind to my son or me, for I believe the safest place on earth is your home, but how do you know who your neighbours are when they portray themselves as innocent victims? Yes, we lived beside criminals who dealt with drugs, guns, and were members of prolific gangs. Little did I know how much danger these individuals represented until my son's life was stolen. It was like living beside a ticking time bomb, which exploded and caused the destruction of my entire family.
I have a daughter, Patrina, whose heart is in pieces, as is mine, because she was as close to her baby brother as I was. It took me a week and a half to prepare for my son's funeral, because I simply did not know what to do. How does a mother prepare herself to bury her own son, when I envisioned as a parent that when I was old and grey he would bury me? In our Indian heritage, honourable members, when we grow old our children look after us, and I was looking forward to getting old with my son and his children at my side. That enjoyment and pleasure and being witness to Chris's life was taken away from me and my family.
Today, I am not sure whether my daughter will ever get married, because she's so emotionally broken, seeing how in a split second the life of a brother was taken and the permanent damage that it caused her parents' marriage.
Honourable members, prior to October 19 I was a person who did Indian classical dance and who had started dancing in grade 2. Till October 19 I was on my way to getting the Indian classical dancer's certificate. I am a professional banker, registered with IIROC. After completing all my banking accreditations, I had spare time and I had a passion for fashion design and sewing. I put myself into school four days a week to take a fashion design course. I was into my second year at BCC when Chris was murdered, and today I don't have the passion for fashion design, sewing, or dancing.
On November 1, 2007, I buried my son, and from that day forward, I have organized rallies, anniversary masses, written to the Prime Minister and the justice minister, spoken at rallies, conferences, and workshops, and taken part in a gang awareness documentary to curb the freedom of these gangsters and bring awareness.
This gang violence, honourable members, has been fifty years in the making. This happened under the watch of the previous federal governments and provincial governments. Hells Angels grew from strength to strength. Today they have charter houses in each province, and no one can touch them. Seeing how they were treated in courts--they were given conditional sentences, house arrests, a one-day sentence, six-month sentences--paves the way for the gang members that we have today. Hells Angels are silent partners today of all these gang members because they are well organized.
I have a mission to touch these gangsters as personally and legally as they have touched our lives illegally. I have put myself into school, and today I am taking criminology classes in order to educate myself and to see how best I can support other family members who have gone through this tragedy and try to make policy changes.
At the same time, keep in mind, honourable members, that members of organized crime represent just a small fraction of our community. That said, we are currently spending millions and millions of dollars and many, many man-hours because our justice system has simply become a legal system.
How do we bring our justice system to represent the society at large from this legal system that today we feel represents only the criminals? How do we restore public confidence in our system? We need to balance the rights of the society and ensure the public safety, because today we feel that the rights of the criminals have been placed way above the society's rights and our collective greater good.
I believe that my son's murder and other murders could have been prevented and/or his murder case could have already been brought before the courts had the recent recommendations presented in Ottawa by our B.C. Solicitor General and Attorney General been fully implemented--and I fully support them too.
While studying criminology, I have--and it is in my list that you have with you--done research of remand credit, and the four individuals who were killed along with my son were given double-time credit and convictions that shouldn't have been given to them. I will let you read that part.
The second part is touching on what Steve Brown said. B.C. courts, contrary to Ontario and Quebec, have adopted the approach that the application of tertiary grounds during bail proceedings should only be in rare and exceptional cases. And I have given you an example: R. v. Bhullar. The public, the media, and the police have all asked why our criminals are walking the streets free. This is because they only apply the primary and secondary clause and not the tertiary clause. I've been studying that in my criminology class also.
Legal applications. The word “impracticable” should be removed from section 487.11 of the Criminal Code, which would therefore result in more practical processes of obtaining legal authorization from the justice of the peace for warrants. I'll leave you with that to read.
I have also given you the recent case of R. v. Ebanks, and that supports that.
Criminal Bench of B.C. Courts. I feel this is very important, because today there is a clear need for an institute of criminal bench in B.C. at the Supreme Court level and in each province in order to ensure that judges presiding over criminal crime trials, often for murders and violent offences involving organized crimes, are appointed from criminal law practice and therefore have the necessary experience to make a sensible trial decision and judgment. We are not seeing this in British Columbia, and there's a public outcry. Why are these people walking the streets? It's because judges appoint judges, and judges don't care what the public's opinions are. Because they're an entity of their own and they cannot be touched by the Attorney General--they can only be advised--they really don't get it in British Columbia.
I think we need more police. I've given you that input also.
I've given you my conclusion, but I also want to say that I am very encouraged by what I see today. Organized crime was 50 years in the making, and I believe we will not let another 50 years go by before anything is done or we let our grandchildren or children resolve this. I'm really encouraged that we have a committee here and federal and provincial governments that are ready to do something. All they need is support.
And we do need support from all parties. I believe all parties are represented here. Take this message to your own parties and say, “In British Columbia the bullets are flying. We are touched, and we need assistance, so please help.”
Thank you so much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I too would like to tell you that I think what you're doing is extremely courageous. It is not difficult to understand that what you have gone through is extremely traumatic. I hope today you will find three sources of comfort.
First, I have been a member of Parliament since 1993 and I can tell you that in the past, the House has proven that it is quite easy to reach consensus on issues regarding organized crime. You should remember that a number of communities, in particular Montreal, which Mr. Petit was speaking about a few moments ago, have experienced a phenomenon similar to what is happening in B.C. at the moment. Some distinctions do have to be made, however. At the time, it was really a war against the Hells Angels and the Rockers. I understand that that was not so much the case for you. We agreed quite quickly that a new offence had to be created. So we added the offence of gangsterism to the Criminal Code, which was described as being five individuals who committed serious offences, punishable by more than two years' imprisonment, for the purpose of providing material or financial resources to an organization. The police explained to us that it was not a good idea to keep the number at five, so we reduced it to three. Since organized crime is evolving very quickly, we later broke the section down into three parts to facilitate indictments.
At the moment, we're all trying to understand the characteristics of organized crime in 2008. It is different from organized crime as it existed in 1995. We are very aware of what is going on in British Columbia, so much so that we decided we needed to go to B.C. as a committee. We will be doing that in April. We are looking for things that can be done to enable the police to lay charges.
I heard you speaking out against judges. I can understand your view on this, but, with all due respect, I do not think the solution lies in this area. In my opinion, the police must have the tools they need to lay charges and later we will see about their effectiveness.
I support the bill because of the offence punishable by a prison term of 25 years. When people have reached this level of responsibility in organized crime, they should not be eligible for parole for a long time. This is how we will destroy the networks. I think this works much better than minimum sentences or other types of measures. We need to give the police more tools to do their job.
You can count on us to work diligently and without partisanship. I think the trials you are going through at the moment will help us go further in our common struggle.
I thank you very much for your courage. You can count on us.
Along with the rest of the speakers, I want to thank you for coming. I can't imagine, having children of my own and an extended family of my own, how difficult it is for you to deal with the loss of your family members.
Let me assure you that we don't get very many witnesses like you in front of this committee. We have not historically, and I've been on this committee for just about five years now. We do occasionally, and I want to say to you that when we do, as perhaps Mr. Ménard was saying, they inspire us to keep doing our job, to try to find methods within our criminal justice system, and the target always is to prevent any crimes. But how to deal with them, how to provide our police and our courts with the tools to both prevent and prosecute when that becomes necessary...it's not a perfect system by any means.
Mr. Brown, you've raised points on some specific problems, and I guess, Ms. Mohan, you have as well for B.C. I think we need to address that, and so we need to do work on it.
I think all of us--at least member of all parties--met with the Attorney General when he was here a week and a half ago, and he certainly drew to our attention the needs he has from us at the federal level. We're attempting to respond to those as quickly as we can. Similarly, we said back to him that there are obviously needs they have to respond to within their jurisdiction.
The point I want to make is that this work is going on now. Your presence here and, I'm sure, in British Columbia when you meet with them is an instigation for us to keep working at this, to not let up. I don't believe that we can ever completely eradicate crime in our society, at least not for centuries, but I also firmly believe that there is a lot more we can do to lower the crime rate, to shut down a lot of these gangs and organized crime more generally, and that we need to work on that very extensively. Your presence here today will keep us inspired to keep working at it, so thank you again.
I want to thank each of you for being here with us today and for sharing your grief and your courage. You have challenged us to bring safety back to our communities. That is a task that I believe every member of this committee takes seriously. Hearing from you and hearing your challenge to us does motivate us in that direction.
I met Mr. Brown and Mrs. Mohan about a year ago in my office. Tragically, things have gotten worse instead of better. Many of the recent shootings started in Langley, in the Walnut Grove area. My immediate response was to phone my family to see if they were okay.
I heard from parents who were out shopping at the local grocery store, and they were experiencing things that we never imagined: hitting the floor; being beside a car that had its windows blown out, with somebody killed in it; and people running for their lives.
I talked to a parent a week ago. They have a six-year-old and a two-year-old. They have taught their child what to do: don't talk to strangers, what to do in emergencies--stop, drop, and roll--and all the different things you teach a child. They've now taught this child what to do if the child hears gunfire. The six-year-old is to hit the floor--jump out of his car seat, get on the floor of the car, and take his little brother out of his car seat and pull him down to the floor too. This is how people are living, and we have to do something.
We introduced, and it came into force in May of last year, the Tackling Violent Crime Act. In that new legislation, there was a change to reverse onus for bail release. Mr. Brown, you brought up three main things: the two-for-one remand, bail for serious offences, and conditional sentencing. Two of those were in the Tackling Violent Crime Act. Conditional sentencing for serious offences is not to be permitted, and there is a reverse onus for bail for serious crimes.
I believe you were at a recent rally in Surrey. In your case, I believe, there's been no one charged and no conviction. In your case, we don't know who committed those murders or if it was one person or a number of people. There is nobody. When we do catch somebody, they're charged and they're released on bail. How does that happen? Having a background in loss prevention and writing up fatality reports for the provincial corporation, ICBC, you look at the causes. What caused that situation, and what are the solutions to try to keep that from ever happening again?
All of you have eloquently highlighted your perspectives on some of the causes. Could you elaborate on solutions?