February 27, 2005

RCMP Underfunded, Undermanned -- Marijuana Grow Ops Spread -- Yet Government Won't Address the Problem -- Why? MP Chuck Cadman CPC on the Grow Ops

Closing an RCMP lab? Government has been awash in cash -- sponsorship, gun registry, etc. Why don't they cut out the waste and corruption before closing an RCMP forensic lab? But this is just one problem.

The RCMP are short a minimun 2500 officers yet the government has allowd the closing up to 9 detachments in marijuana growing areas of Quebec. The cases are already backed up and others put on the back burner for lack of funding.

The government has done all in its power to give carte blanche to major criminal organizations. Just look at the dismal track record. The crooks are carrying on $25 billion in crimial operations; very few make it to court and the government has handcuffed the police. Why? Who is making money from all this? The government has repeatedly been told of the situation, particularly with grow ops, and has done little or acted so as to prevent the RCMP from having what they need to get the job done. Why?

Why have the mainstream media ignored the extent of this problem?

Who will make money if marijuana is legalized, as seems to be in the offing? Does anyone remember the illegal gambling in the Maritimes? I have heard, but do not know whether it is true, that governments, unable to do much that was effective in stopping it, gave up. Governments then legalized gambling--was it machines, at first? The "industry" has burgeoned since government got in on the money by taxing it. But what happened to those who were already involved? Did they make money? Do they now?

Would the same thing be coming with marijuana? In the effort to legalize marijuana, is it not relevant that the people involved already are mainly criminal gangs and the profits realized go into other criminal activities, including terrorism? Would everyone who fondly remembers the apparently harmless joint they smoked in their callow youth consider the consequences of decriminalizing or legalization today? Much more has entered the equation than an herb growing in the back yard. Scroll down for Chuck Cadman's address to Parliament on this.

Grits sharpen axe stephanie Rubec, Parliamentary News Bureau, Sun Media, Feb. 25, 05

The Liberal government will slash programs, cut about 2,840 jobs and mothball equipment over the next five years to help pay for Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's budget spending spree. Few departments will be spared the axe, which will carve $11 billion out of programs by 2010.

The cost-saving measures will see one of six RCMP forensic labs closed and as of Tuesday, Canada's air transport complaints commissioner was out of a job.

To boost revenue, the Liberal government will hire collection agencies to recover debts owed to Human Resources, Social Development and Industry Canada.

[. . . . ] Revenue Minister John McCallum, who led the expenditure review, . . . . pointed out that 40% of Goodale's new priorities were funded by the savings found in his expenditure review -- except the $75-billion health care and equalization deal cut with the provinces which was funded by the surplus. [. . . . ]

There are at least 50,000 grow ops in Canada, let alone all the other illegal drugs. One would assume that there would be major busts every week -- if the RCMP were properly funded. That's not the case. Does it matter?

What is an acceptable level of corruption? The government may not have found it yet.

Hansard: Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-10, this government's feeble attempt to address the possession and production of marijuana in Canada.

(1310) [. . . . ] Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-10, this government's feeble attempt to address the possession and production of marijuana in Canada.

At times Canadians must wonder if the government is even aware of the problems of marijuana grow ops in Canada. I have tried for some time now to make these Liberals aware of the extent of the problem in my constituency of Surrey North.

In Surrey alone, an estimated 3,500 to 4,500 grow ops generate, conservatively estimated, in excess of $2 billion per year.
B.C. bud goes into the United States as currency for guns and cocaine. These grow ops are run by violent criminal gangs and many are located in residential neighbourhoods where there are plenty of children. I continue to receive letters, e-mails and phone calls from constituents who are extremely angry that too little is being done.

The criminal intelligence directorate of the RCMP issued a report, “Marijuana Cultivation in Canada”, in November 2002. In 2001, Canadian police seized close to $1.4 million marijuana plants, a six-fold increase since 1993. In 2002, 54 million grams of bulk marijuana were seized, up from 28 million in 2001. This phenomenal increase in the illegal production of marijuana occurred under this government's watch while the current Prime Minister held the purse strings on funding that could have addressed the problem long before now.

The RCMP told the former solicitor general that grow ops had reached “epidemic proportions”--that is their wording--and that resources to take them down were an issue.

Innocent lives are at risk here. We have had drive-by shootings, assaults and murders. Neighbours frequently have their homes violently invaded in so-called grow rips, when the bad guys get the wrong address.

Why do we not see any resources directly targeting marijuana grow operations and why is there not a strategy in place? This is out of control.

The former solicitor general called the problem serious and admitted it should be challenged head on. He said, “We do have to do more”. He said that he had raised the matter with the former minister of finance, the current Prime Minister. At that time, he declared that in the next few weeks the government would bring forward proposals that, in his words, “will in a more comprehensive fashion challenge the grow operations, to increase penalties and take them down”.

Bill C-10 falls woefully short of that promise.

The current maximum sentence for growing marijuana is seven years. The bill we are debating proposes increasing the maximum sentence to 14 years, but only for more than 50 plants. The maximum sentence for growing four to 25 plants will actually be reduced to five years. That is shocking. We are reducing sentences while international organized crime is increasingly establishing grow ops in Canada due to our already lax laws and lenient sentences.

Besides, with penalties still at the discretion of the courts, what is the point of increasing maximum sentences when they rarely, if ever, come close to imposing the current maximums?
With no set mandatory minimum sentences, we will continue to see judges giving far less than the maximum penalties for cultivation. If the government were truly serious about combatting grow ops, it would have instituted mandatory minimum jail sentences and more effective proceeds of crime legislation.

This legislation is great news for organized crime. The November 2002 RCMP criminal intelligence directorate report declared that high profits, a low risk of being caught and lenient sentences are spurring the epidemic of marijuana grow ops in Canada. It states:

Police resources are now being taxed to the point where difficult choices must be made when faced with competing priorities.

This explains why law enforcement agencies are unable to make a lasting impact on the marijuana cultivation industry in Canada. Huge profits from illegal marijuana growing are often used by organized crime, in the words of the report “to finance other illicit activities, such as the importation of Ecstasy, liquid hashish and cocaine”.

The number of illegal marijuana operations is rising so fast that some Canadian police agencies are being overwhelmed, the RCMP report said, stating that:

In some parts of the country, the phenomenon has reached epidemic proportions.

I have been asking questions in the House for some time now about the government's lack of effort to take down marijuana grow ops.

In the spring of 2003, the former solicitor general visited Surrey to examine the problem, in part, by his own admission, because of questions I had asked in this place. To this point in time, neither my constituents nor I have seen any action from the government. I commented at the time that his visit was just a grow op photo op. It now appears as though that is all it was.

In August 2003, another RCMP criminal intelligence unit report said that organized crime is extending its marijuana grow op reach clear across Canada by merging with biker gangs.


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