Ontario Government Hosts Inaugural Crime Fighting Forum



    Alberta And Saskatchewan Join Agreement To Fight Organized Crime

    TORONTO, June 15 /CNW/ - Ontario, Manitoba, Québec, Alberta and
Saskatchewan concluded the first annual inter-provincial forum on organized
crime with a signing ceremony to formally welcome Alberta and Saskatchewan,
Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.
    The Inter-Provincial Agreement on the Prevention and Effective
Prosecution of Organized Crime was originally signed by Ontario, Manitoba and
Québec on September 22, 2006. Alberta and Saskatchewan officially joined in a
signing ceremony held at Queen's Park today at the conclusion of the three-day
forum.
    "Organized justice means reaching out to other jurisdictions in other
parts of Canada to collaborate like never before. That's why the McGuinty
government is proud to host the first annual inter-provincial forum on
organized crime," said Bryant. "Along with founding partners Manitoba and
Québec, Ontario is also pleased to welcome Alberta and Saskatchewan to this
historic agreement to strengthen joint efforts to fight organized crime. As
organized crime becomes more organized, the response is organized justice."
    The forum brought together provincial government officials, police and
prosecutors to share expertise and best practices regarding search warrants
and wiretaps, witness protection issues, and other tools and tactics to combat
organized crime. As a result of this forum, the provinces also committed to
increased collaboration in a number of areas including civil and criminal
asset forfeiture, exchanging Crown counsel to serve on organized crime
prosecution teams, and expanding avenues of communication.
    "Just as the violence, intimidation and other products of organized crime
don't stop at provincial borders, neither will our fight against these gangs,"
said Manitoba Attorney General Dave Chomiak. "This forum and this agreement
build on our cooperative efforts to fight organized crime."
    "Forums such as this help Québec share our particular expertise on the
major prosecutions of criminal organizations, while learning more about the
experiences of fighting organized crime in other jurisdictions," said Québec
Attorney General Jacques P. Dupuis.
    "The best response to organized crime is organized justice," said Alberta
Attorney General Ron Stevens. "This inter-provincial agreement will help make
it easier for the provinces to share information, training and best
practices."
    "Organized crime exploits jurisdictional divides and with this agreement
we are closing the door to that exploitation," added Saskatchewan Minister of
Corrections and Public Safety, Ron Harper. "Saskatchewan is pleased to be a
partner in this united fight against organized crime."
    The inter-provincial agreement, the first of its kind in Canada, builds
on existing partnerships and provincial strategies that have proven effective
in the fight against organized crime.

    
    Disponible en français

                      www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   ONTARIO'S FIGHT AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIME
         Organized Crime Meets The Seven Pillars Of Organized Justice

    Ontario's response to organized crime is organized justice, a
multi-pronged strategy consisting of seven pillars designed to combat
organized crime on all fronts. The strategy unites justice partners to fight
well-resourced criminal organizations.
    The seven pillars of the organized justice strategy implemented by the
McGuinty government are:

    1.  Expanding the Guns and Gangs Task Force to bring together Crown
        prosecutors and police and deploying specialized Crowns to work with
        police on gun and gang-related investigations and prosecutions across
        the province

    2.  Opening a state-of-the-art Operations Centre providing for highly
        coordinated investigations and prosecutions of organized crimes
        including gun and gang-related offences

    3.  Formalizing an inter-provincial agreement with Manitoba, Québec,
        Alberta and Saskatchewan to share expertise and strategies that have
        proven effective in the fight against organized crime

    4.  Hiring 1,000 new police officers across the province

    5.  Establishing a major crime courtroom to respond to large-scale
        prosecutions, with a second major crime courtroom set to open in the
        coming months

    6.  Seizing unlawful assets through criminal and civil forfeiture -
        $3.6 million has been forfeited since October 2003, under the Civil
        Remedies Act, and $11.3 million in property is currently frozen,
        pending completion of civil forfeiture proceedings, and

    7.  Creating opportunities for young people through sustained investments
        in our schools and in our communities through implementing
        initiatives such as a $45 million Challenge Fund to assist high-risk
        neighbourhoods.
    

    The Inter-Provincial Agreement on the Prevention and Effective
Prosecution of Organized Crime was originally signed by Ontario, Manitoba and
Québec on September 22, 2006. Alberta and Saskatchewan officially joined the
agreement in a signing ceremony held today at the end of the three-day
inaugural forum held in Toronto. The agreement, first announced by Ontario
Attorney General Michael Bryant in May 2006, strengthens the provinces' joint
efforts to fight organized crime through greater collaboration,
information-sharing and training.
    The McGuinty government continues to call on the federal government to
maintain the federal gun registry and move as quickly as possible to amend the
Criminal Code to:

    -   Implement a handgun ban, and
    -   Set more severe penalties for breach of bail conditions.

    What is organized crime?

    Over the years, organized crime has evolved. Sophisticated, diversified,
multi-national criminal organizations now operate around the world, exploiting
reduced trade barriers, technology such as the Internet, and inter-provincial
and trans-national jurisdictions.
    Organized crime can take many forms, including money laundering,
contraband cigarettes, identity and automobile theft, illegal narcotics,
counterfeiting, child exploitation, extortion, intimidation, migrant smuggling
and trafficking in persons.
    The financial and human costs of organized crime are huge. Counterfeiting
and automobile theft each cost the Canadian economy approximately $1 billion
per year. The human cost is incalculable.

    
    Contact:
    Brendan Crawley
    Ministry of the Attorney General
    Communications Branch
    (416) 326-2210

    Disponible en français

                      www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Greg Crone, Ministry of the Attorney General,
Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; David Leibl, Office of the Attorney General
of Manitoba, (204) 945-1494; Philippe Archambault, Office of the Attorney
General of Québec, (514) 402-4128; Heather Massel, Alberta Justice
Communications, (780) 427-8530; Debi McEwen, ABC, Saskatchewan Justice,
Saskatchewan Corrections and Public Safety, (306) 787-6043; Brendan Crawley,
Ministry of the Attorney General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210

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