"Son, when you participate in sporting events, it's not whether you win or lose: it's how drunk you get."
-- Homer Simpson

With a blue moon in your eyes

It’s been a while since I posted, but life has been keeping me busy yet again. Since my last posting, I’ve finished the deck frame, and I’ve gotten back to the roofing over my entrances. It’s getting mighty cold out there…

The renovation update aside, what got me posting again was the latest bit of stupidity from our “leaders”. The Grits are all up in arms because the Conservatives (I refuse to call them Tories) used the phrase “organized crime” in reference to the sponsorship scandal. The Liberals have their lawyers sending warning letters to Harper and his cronies, which is of course only for the publicity, since remarks made in the House of Commons are not subject to slander or defamation laws.

I’m not often in agreement with Harper (I prefer my conservative with a small c), but I have to admit, in this case the shoe kinda fits. There isn’t actually a common definition of organized crime, but here’s the RCMP definition (taken from their site):

A “criminal organization” means a group, however organized, that:

(a) is composed of three or more persons in or outside Canada; and,
(b) has as one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences, that, if committed, would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group or by any one of the persons who constitute the group.

The various components that comprise this legal definition are based on the exclusion of a group of three of more persons that has formed randomly for the immediate commission of a single offence.

South of the border, the FBI has the following to say (taken from the FBI site):

The FBI defines organized crime as any group having some manner of a formalized structure and whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities. Such groups maintain their position through the use of actual or threatened violence, corrupt public officials, graft, or extortion, and generally have a significant impact on the people in their locales, region, or the country as a whole.

By either definition, I don’t really see how the sponsorship scandal doesn’t apply. Have a look at The Globe and Mail’s representation of the parties involved. Definitely more than three people, who do have a formalized structure.

According to the Globe’s summary of Gomery’s initial findings, “a complex web of financial transactions existed among Public Works and Government Services Canada, Crown corporations and communications agencies, involving kickbacks and illegal contributions to a political party in the context of the sponsorship program.” Sounds like graft to me. Also, “there was “clear evidence” of political involvement in the administration of the program.” So we also have corrupt public officials in the mix.

I could go on, but I’m pretty sure I’ve made my point. Just because the Liberals weren’t carrying guns and eating down on Preston Street doesn’t preclude their actions from qualifying as organized crime. Harper is of course using this phrase for political capital, but Martin needs to choose an approach other than denial. This country needs to recover from this shameful interlude and move on, and fighting against the reality of the situation is just going to draw it out even more.

17 Responses to “With a blue moon in your eyes”

  1. Dude, I don’t think allusions to organized crime counts as ‘moving on’. Everyone needs to move on, and potshots in the process don’t help. Harper is an idiot if he thinks he can win the election by merely continuing to whine about the scandal without coming up with an actual platform.

    And the legal avenues they might pursue relate to comments MacKay and some other guy made outside the House.

  2. I agree, but when the Liberals keep ignoring the demands for an apology, they enable Harper to continue using the whole thing as political capital. Of course he’s going to keep spouting off, we’re effectively in an election campaign right now. But the longer the Liberals refuse to take responsibility for the whole thing, the more opportunities they give to Harper for his potshots.

    If Martin would stop hiding behind Gomery and come out and state publicly that it’s clear at this point there was wrongdoing by the Liberal party, and vow to take action to eliminate the corruption (and make those responsible pay, blah, blah, blah), he’d take a lot of the wind out of Harper’s sails. As long as Harper sees that he’s getting somewhere with the “Liberals are corrupt” mantra, he’s going to keep trotting it out.

  3. well .. I partially agree Kaveman ..
    the Libs need to make sure this kinda thing doesn’t happen again.. so yes the need to clean up .. the PM I beleive has already taken responsibility .. and called to the inquiry to see who was guilty or at least find out all the facts ( spin machine in action) .. and promised to hold an election as soon as the report is released. which he is not going to get a chance to do … the conservative / BLOC / NDP coalition is playing politics for sure ( so are the libs ..) because all of them want power .
    they want to make sure they can point to the scandal .. to how weak the libs are ( see we forced an Election at a cost of millions of dollars ) so vote for us .. so we can form the next Minority Govt ( of the west ) .. “we are better and they suck .. vote for us .. uhm.. Mulroney .. yeah .. no never heard of that guy .. what a conservative.. no no he was a Progressive Conservative .. way different.. they actually liked minorities .. oops went to far again .. sorry ! everyone sorry! .. vote quimby

  4. Kaveman, the PM already acknowledged wrongdoing and vowed to clean up the situation and ensure accountability…in 2004…after the last election…which was almost entirely about the scandal…and nothing has changed since…except the exonoration of the current sitting government (well, until tonight).

    Again, Harper needs more of a platform than “not that”, and more of a reason for bringing down the government than “it’s not us”.

  5. …which, in fact, seems to echo up your major complaints about the Ontario Liberals, Kaveman…

    Also, there is a problem with both definitions you quoted. From the RCMP: “…has as one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more offenses…” From the FBI: “…primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities…” I would argue that the main purpose or activity of the Liberal party is NOT the commission of offenses, it is to lead the country. The sponsorship scandal was a side-activity, and not the main purpose or activity of the Liberal party. So the organised crime lable is a big stretch in my opinion.

    Frankly, if I was lumped in with the Hell’s Angles, I’d be consulting lawyers too.

  6. Boyo, I’m in total agreement with you about Harper’s need for a platform, but he’s going to continue pushing at the Liberals on the scandal thing because Canadians never vote anyone in, we only vote parties out (which is what my problem is with the Ontario Liberals, Homewrecker). Martin may have vowed to clean things up in 2004, but you’re right, he hasn’t done anything about it yet (at least not visibly), and the general populace has a short memory. Martin should be repeatedly acknowledging the wrongdoing, reaffirming his vow to clean things up, and distancing his administration from Chretien’s at every opportunity. When he instead blusters about the language used, he just plays right into Harper’s hand.

    Homewrecker, I think the implication was not that the entire Liberal party is a criminal organization, just the sub-cadre led out of the PMO under Chretien that ran the sponsorship program. That group of people did seem to have monetary gain as their primary objective, regardless of Chretien’s claims of “supporting national unity”.

    And your comparison needs a little tweak to truly be analogous. If you had spent a couple of years riding a Harley with a bunch of other bikers, terrorizing small communities, dealing drugs and killing people, but were now a respectable citizen with a job and a mainsteam life, and someone lumped you in with Hell’s Angels…well, you would still want to consult a lawyer, but I’d then be saying the same thing about you as I’m saying about Martin… :-)

  7. Vote Quimby

  8. So my biggest BEEF now with those guys after having watched those penquins on TV last night is how it was all a big Joke and a Party afterwards ..
    not a political party .. but an Actual Cocktail party .. those freaking hipocrytes are all about how bad each other is .. how badly run the finances are . how the sponsorship scandal wasted tax payers money etc… and none of them could stay too long to explain to the public why we need a new election at a cost of 300 Million dollars .. because they had to hurry to attend a cocktail party put on by the speaker of the house ..

    I watched those guys & gals who on a day to day basis use “fighting words” IE words if someone said to you on the street would get you a punch in the throat , walk across the floor and shake hands, give high fives, big hugs and kisses , pat’s on the back etc.. to the “other Team of Arrogant can’t work with anyone party etc.. ” The whole Atmosphere last night was not one of dread or F!@#$! we couldn’t make this work .. but one of oh well weekend is coming .. maybe I’ll BBQ wanna come over ?

    DISGUSTING .. but hey we are the ones that Hired those Clowns ..

    so .. SORRY EVERYONE SORRY …

    Vote Quimby ..

  9. Yes, Kaveman, I know that was your problem with the Ontario Liberals. My point is that they are by no means the only ones to resort to this in their campaigns.

    I do question whether or not the sub-cadre really had the primary aim of making money by illegal means. It still seems to me that that was a side activity (albeit a lucrative one) – but then again, you will no doubt quote chapter and verse of the Gomery report to refute that argument for me! :)

    Martin never used a motorcycle to make his drug deliveries, so I think you have missed my point; I’m not talking about a checkered past vs. “I’m clean now, honest!!”. I’m talking about drug dealing and murdering vs. kickbacks. Yes, both the Hell’s Angels and the Liberal sub-cadre may technically fit the OC definition (MAY – but I’m not buying it yet), but it really is a comparison of apples to oranges. My training on organised crime certainly never covered political kickbacks. From an enforcement perspective, allow me to say that the comparison is laughable.

    And finally, as Harper promises to institute a new office of public prosecutions should he get elected to “make sure that nothing like the sponsorship scandal would ever happen again” (http://www.cbc.ca/story/canadavotes2006/national/2005/11/30/elxn-harper-prosecutions.html), and I giggle helplessly at the flawed logic, allow me to echo a sentiment that has frequently been expressed in this thread…

    VOTE QUIMBY!!!

  10. Kav your last paragraph about bikers is utterly ridiculous. A kickback scheme is not akin to murder and drug dealing.

    Secondly, true, Martin has been a bit lax in his enforcement scheme, but what I actually meant by “nothing has changed since” was that after the 04 election, he said “Canadians have spoken and we have to do better”, and since then nothing scandalous has happened (apart from Dingwall, not a politician, perhaps taking liberties) and the inquiry did not implicate anyone who was re-elected in 04.

    WHY DO WE NEED A SECOND REFERENDUM ON THE SCANDAL???

    When testimony was being heard, Harper took advantage of the juiciest bits to decide for himself if the current government had the moral authority to govern, even though the testimony referred to events 8 years in the past and involving people not currently in parliament. He made no effort to work with the government to make parliament work, a direct reversal of his own post-election pledges.

  11. OK, everyone all of a sudden started thinking I was for Harper. The only point I’ve tried to make all the way through this is that the Liberal kickbacks do, in my opinion, qualify for the technical definition of organized crime.

    Boyo, my Hell’s Angel paragraph was to qualify Homewrecker’s comment that she’d be getting a lawyer involved if someone said she had been in the Hell’s Angels. I was trying to be facetious in stating that if she had indeed been in the Hell’s Angels, then the analogy would be accurate. I was not trying to imply that murder and drug dealing are comparable with kickbacks.

    I agree that we don’t need another election now, especially when Martin committed to having one in the spring. I think the Conservatives are going to suffer for forcing this election, and are going to end up with fewer seats. The only real question in my mind is whether or not the NDP or Bloc are going to grow, or are the Liberals going to get their majority back?

  12. Kaveman, by agreeing with Harper (not to say you are for him, but you did say you agreed with him) that the sponsorship scandal constitutes organised crime, you are most certainly implying that murder and drug dealing are comparable with kickbacks.

    I think we know what first comes to people’s minds when you utter the words “organized crime”, and it sure isn’t the deliberately vague definitions used by the RCMP and the FBI. I’m sure that’s the connection Harper was hoping voters would make when he said it. We don’t seem to have language that separates “graft” as you called it from the Hell’s Angels’ Filthy Few.

  13. So what first comes to people’s minds is what constitutes a definition now? I would like to disagree with that view, ‘wrecker, and stick with the official definitions, thanks… :-)

    As much as Harper is hoping that voters will make one kind of connection, Martin is also hoping that voters will choose to ignore the reality of the situation just because Harper is the one stating it — that’s the whole reason for playing the lawyer card instead of dealing with the situation. Let’s please not forget that all of these guys are playing political games, as Deuce as already stated.

    Vote Terwilliger! :-)

  14. Actually, Kaveman, yes, what first comes to people’s mind frequently does constitute “definition”. And dictionary writers and publishers are on my side for this one – language evolves, and despite the original or official definition of a word or term, they will update their dictionaries to include the “common usage” definitions that evolve over time. The “official” definitons are no more legitimate than the common usage.

    Furthermore; it’s great that you have the luxury to just grab a short definition like that and say “this is what is written, so this is what it is”. Personally, I find this whole thing offensive. Calling certain Liberal party members an organised crime organisation cheapens the impact of the very harsh things that OC organisations do (such as murder, drug dealing, involvement in restaurants and slaughterhouses that can result in bypassing health regulations and risking major public health crises, forced prostitution, to name a few). From an enforcement perspective, including political kickbacks under OC is just laughable. My OC notes start with a very general OC definition similar to ones that you quote, but soon the details paint a picture that pretty much excludes political kickbacks entirely. An understanding of OC emerges in which these organisations are defined by what they actually do, and what they do is horrific. When you examine the details, the sponsorship scandal just doesn’t fit at all. The only similarity between OC organisations and certain Liberal party misfits is that forensic accountants are useful for gathering evidence. That’s it.

    Call it graft. Call it corruption. Call it white collar crime. Yes, it’s outrageous and unacceptable and we shouldn’t forget it.But OC? Don’t make me laugh. It’s just ludicrous, Kaveman, and I’m astonished you fell for it.

  15. Remember how the Cons got all riled up about the KKK reference? I sincerely don’t see a difference in magnitude versus the Libranos reference.

  16. Homewrecker, I really don’t believe it’s outrageous or unacceptable to label the Liberal kickbacks as OC. Is it a milder variety of OC than the ones you’re listing off? Of course it is, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t qualify.

    You’re basically trying to tell me that we can’t use the term unless there’s a level of severity to it. So how about you tell me where that line is? If I run a criminal organization that only engages in white collar crime, you’re saying that it shouldn’t qualify as OC? What if I engage in some theft, but I don’t use any guns? What if I arrange to have a few people beaten up, but make sure no one gets killed? What if I only kill other organization members?

    It’s these types of issues that have made the phrase “Organized Crime” difficult to strictly define, and why there is so much variation from country to country (for example, the FBI’s definition is actually fairly different from the RCMP’s). And the portions of the definitions that I pasted into my posting weren’t the only bits that I looked at. I actually read a fair bit from both sites (FBI & RCMP) about how Organized Crime is defined, and I still believe the Liberal kickbacks qualify. To convince me any differently, you’ll need to show me where it’s defined that murder is a required component.

  17. Where it’s defined? No, it’s not written.

    Level, of severity, however? You bet. And that line to cross is the risk of physical harm or death to law enforcement officers who investigate these crimes and others from the suspects themselves or their associates. The approach my colleagues have to take in order to keep themselves safe when investigating and arresting people they suspect of violence is quite different from the approach they take when enforcing white collar crime where there is no risk of violence. These things are not trivial.

    However, I’m now in a position of having to eat my words; I confess I have not paid much attention to the details of the sponsorship scandal, because frankly, the whole thing makes me just want to barf, but what I had not been aware of was the use of threats of physical violence to force individuals to go along with the scheme. Which changes the picture dramatically, and I now have to do a 180 and agree with both Kaveman and Harper.

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