Emergencies Act: Ottawa Aims to Seize Pittance From Protesters, Yet Ignores Flood of Dark Money for Years

Commentary One strange thing about Justin Trudeau panicking and invoking the Emergencies Act is that it doesn’t appear to give the state many powers it didn’t already have, let alone need to deal with the supposed emergency. Another is that one draconian power it does give, to seize or freeze financial assets without a court order, could address a very real issue governments have ignored for years: the flood of dirty money into Canada. But they have no apparent intention of addressing it. Canadians don’t seem to think it possible that our clean, modest, polite, orderly land could be an infamous money laundering haven. And our governments don’t seem to think it matters. To be clear, I don’t think you should be able to seize Hitler’s bank account without a court order. And the “occupation” and “siege” of Ottawa is not a war even by Twitter standards, nor a threat to Canadian democracy by any standard. The flood of dark money is a different matter. And one more example of the essential paralysis of Canadian governments. Despite an impressive array of powers and ambitions, and a largely docile populace, they can’t even make serious efforts to keep promises like ending boil-water advisories on aboriginal reserves. I won’t mention balancing the budget because it’s going to do it itself while we nap. But can’t we stir ourselves slightly on massive money laundering? It’s not exactly a secret that, say, Vancouver real estate is driven by highly suspicious piles of cash, often literally. Following breaking news that “Canada’s deputy PM @cafreeland has just said the government is using the Emergencies Act to expand the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering legislation to crowdfunding platforms to stop the funding of what they called an illegal blockade,” the mayor of Port Coquitlam, B.C., tweeted, “A reminder that organized crime in this country (and others) have laundered BILLIONS through Canadian real estate, casinos & more.” A reminder. From a mayor. Some journalists have been on it for years, including Terry Glavin. Back in 2017, applauding calls to investigate money laundering in the wake of Australian scandals, he pointed out that “Prime Minister Trudeau survived almost wholly unscathed after offering himself up at $1,500-a-plate dinners last year. The glamorous attendees included Benson Wong of the Chinese Business Chamber of Commerce, insurance tycoon and banker Shenglin Xian, and billionaire Zhang Bin, who donated $1 million to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the University of Montreal on top of his $1,500 fee.” Such “generosity” might explain why politicians haven’t even attempted to deal with money laundering in any way you’d want. Like directing significant resources to the relevant division of the RCMP. Unlike fixing policing more generally, it isn’t a case of trying and failing, but of not trying. Yet a Google search of “Canada money laundering” yields 44.7 million hits. Including Glavin again, from December 2021, on Vancouver’s “richly earned … reputation as a money laundering hub for international swindlers, drug dealers and well-connected high rollers,” citing a federal Criminal Intelligence Service report, so someone is paying attention, “that reckoned the amount of dirty money making its way into Canadian real estate and other ventures at perhaps $133 billion annually.” Got that? Because someone did. Glavin also cites an ATI-fuelled discovery that “between 2012 and January of this year, [Vancouver] officials had accepted nearly 2,000 payments totalling $13.1 million for everything from property tax payments to municipal cemetery plots – all in stacks of cash.” It’s like something out of Monty Python. As is the usual suspects being in high dudgeon, and Canada in a state of emergency, over $9 million in funding to some rough-around-the-edges protesters. The selective outrage is obvious, given cheerful acceptance of foreign funding of environmental groups, including one on whose behalf our current environment minister broke the law. I don’t mind foreigners funding Canadians, or vice versa, for legal activities. But money laundering isn’t legal. And it brings other crimes in with it and causes yet others, from bribery to gunfire. Consider this Feb. 15 National Post news alert: “a suspected ketamine manufacturer was shot to death in Phuket, a popular tourist spot in southern Thailand … police in British Columbia are bracing for a possible backlash, and fear it has already begun.” Such a thing could happen even to the most peaceful kingdom. But we’re not that kingdom, except in our minds. Canada has notoriously porous borders for illegal tobacco, migrants, drugs, the guns criminal ventures need, and the money they attract and spawn. I know we don’t take national security seriously, from our Armed Forces to banning Huawei from vital communications infrastructure. But it’s especially rich, so to speak, that we’re now prepared to seize a pittance from some irritated protesters by sus

Emergencies Act: Ottawa Aims to Seize Pittance From Protesters, Yet Ignores Flood of Dark Money for Years

Commentary

One strange thing about Justin Trudeau panicking and invoking the Emergencies Act is that it doesn’t appear to give the state many powers it didn’t already have, let alone need to deal with the supposed emergency. Another is that one draconian power it does give, to seize or freeze financial assets without a court order, could address a very real issue governments have ignored for years: the flood of dirty money into Canada. But they have no apparent intention of addressing it.

Canadians don’t seem to think it possible that our clean, modest, polite, orderly land could be an infamous money laundering haven. And our governments don’t seem to think it matters.

To be clear, I don’t think you should be able to seize Hitler’s bank account without a court order. And the “occupation” and “siege” of Ottawa is not a war even by Twitter standards, nor a threat to Canadian democracy by any standard.

The flood of dark money is a different matter. And one more example of the essential paralysis of Canadian governments. Despite an impressive array of powers and ambitions, and a largely docile populace, they can’t even make serious efforts to keep promises like ending boil-water advisories on aboriginal reserves.

I won’t mention balancing the budget because it’s going to do it itself while we nap. But can’t we stir ourselves slightly on massive money laundering?

It’s not exactly a secret that, say, Vancouver real estate is driven by highly suspicious piles of cash, often literally. Following breaking news that “Canada’s deputy PM @cafreeland has just said the government is using the Emergencies Act to expand the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering legislation to crowdfunding platforms to stop the funding of what they called an illegal blockade,” the mayor of Port Coquitlam, B.C., tweeted, “A reminder that organized crime in this country (and others) have laundered BILLIONS through Canadian real estate, casinos & more.” A reminder. From a mayor.

Some journalists have been on it for years, including Terry Glavin. Back in 2017, applauding calls to investigate money laundering in the wake of Australian scandals, he pointed out that “Prime Minister Trudeau survived almost wholly unscathed after offering himself up at $1,500-a-plate dinners last year. The glamorous attendees included Benson Wong of the Chinese Business Chamber of Commerce, insurance tycoon and banker Shenglin Xian, and billionaire Zhang Bin, who donated $1 million to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the University of Montreal on top of his $1,500 fee.”

Such “generosity” might explain why politicians haven’t even attempted to deal with money laundering in any way you’d want. Like directing significant resources to the relevant division of the RCMP. Unlike fixing policing more generally, it isn’t a case of trying and failing, but of not trying. Yet a Google search of “Canada money laundering” yields 44.7 million hits. Including Glavin again, from December 2021, on Vancouver’s “richly earned … reputation as a money laundering hub for international swindlers, drug dealers and well-connected high rollers,” citing a federal Criminal Intelligence Service report, so someone is paying attention, “that reckoned the amount of dirty money making its way into Canadian real estate and other ventures at perhaps $133 billion annually.”

Got that? Because someone did. Glavin also cites an ATI-fuelled discovery that “between 2012 and January of this year, [Vancouver] officials had accepted nearly 2,000 payments totalling $13.1 million for everything from property tax payments to municipal cemetery plots – all in stacks of cash.” It’s like something out of Monty Python.

As is the usual suspects being in high dudgeon, and Canada in a state of emergency, over $9 million in funding to some rough-around-the-edges protesters. The selective outrage is obvious, given cheerful acceptance of foreign funding of environmental groups, including one on whose behalf our current environment minister broke the law.

I don’t mind foreigners funding Canadians, or vice versa, for legal activities. But money laundering isn’t legal. And it brings other crimes in with it and causes yet others, from bribery to gunfire. Consider this Feb. 15 National Post news alert: “a suspected ketamine manufacturer was shot to death in Phuket, a popular tourist spot in southern Thailand … police in British Columbia are bracing for a possible backlash, and fear it has already begun.”

Such a thing could happen even to the most peaceful kingdom. But we’re not that kingdom, except in our minds. Canada has notoriously porous borders for illegal tobacco, migrants, drugs, the guns criminal ventures need, and the money they attract and spawn.

I know we don’t take national security seriously, from our Armed Forces to banning Huawei from vital communications infrastructure. But it’s especially rich, so to speak, that we’re now prepared to seize a pittance from some irritated protesters by suspending the rule of law while gazing passively at a flood of dark money undermining it.

Talk about an emergency.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Robson is a documentary filmmaker, National Post columnist, contributing editor to the Dorchester Review, and executive director of the Climate Discussion Nexus. His most recent documentary is “The Environment: A True Story.”