Pubdate: Sat, 23 Sep 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Page: K7
Section: Letters
Author: James Dubro, Toronto

Letter Of The Week


Re Biker gangs, Sept. 17. I wish to commend Trevor Ferguson for his
perceptive take on the organized crime crisis in Montreal. What we
have seen going on in Montreal over the past few years is a major,
bloody battle for control of lucrative illegal substances.

There is, however, one significant ingredient to the mix that he has
overlooked in his excellent analysis and that is the desire by a large
segment of the population for the services and/or products of
organized crime that are illegal or inordinately expensive. Everyone
who uses marijuana, ecstasy, steroids or a prostitute is contributing
to the organized crime problem in Canada today.

Organized crime would be powerless if it were not for the huge sums of
money paid by its many clients for these illegal services and products.

Having spent almost three decades researching and writing about
organized crime in Canada, I now feel the time has come to look
seriously at decriminalizing some of the drugs that have fuelled the
enormous growth of organized crime in the past decade. Until we
address the problem of drug use by many members of society we will get
nowhere in the fight against organized crime.

Outlawing the gangs by name accomplishes nothing except to take a
fundamental right away from us - the right to freedom of

In the case of the biker gangs, simply arresting members of various
gangs that have names would just be giving a marketing advantage to
other organized crime groups - such as the Vietnamese gangs, the
triads, the Russian mobs, the native organized crime groups, and the
Jamaican gangs - in the providing of illegal drugs and other services.

The desire for a quick fix after the tragic shooting of journalist
Michel Auger (a friend and colleague) - suspending the Constitution
and outlawing membership in certain gangs - ignores and grossly
simplifies the complex reality of organized crime as it exists in
Canada today. The police already have the necessary laws to go after
the mobs for the crimes they are committing.

The draconian anti-gang laws brought in after the 11-year-old boy was
killed by bikers in Montreal allows for the confiscation of the assets
(without a trial) and the doubling of prison time for members of
organized crime gangs. We should not resort to anti-democratic
measures in a well-intentioned but ill-conceived attempt to stop the

If we all stopped using the services and products of organized crime,
the gangs would be vastly reduced in power and money. But there will
always be organized crime in our society as long as people want what
the law says they cannot have.

James Dubro

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