Western Canadian justice officials tackle gang violence
Justice officials from western Canada met in Calgary Saturday to talk about gangs. It's the first time ministers from western provinces have met to identify priorities to combat organized crime and gang violence.
Alberta Justice Minister, Alison Redford, says gangs recognize no borders, so provinces need to work together to ensure safety in the community.
"We need to cooperate, we need to have a western Canadian approach to ensure that we're sharing information, that police are cooperating, that prosecutors are cooperating so that we can respond to what's happening in our communities as soon as it happens."
Redford says they've agreed on a number of priorities to take to the federal government to work towards making changes to Canada's criminal code.
"Once the person has demonstrated one time that they're not prepared to respect a court order, the second time they go in for breaching those conditions, there shouldn't be an assumption that they're going to respect the court order the second time and there should be a reverse onus and the presumption should be that they will be held without bail."
British Columbia Attorney General, Wally Oppal, wants police to be able to authorize wire taps on phone lines.
"We want the police to have the right to wire tap people immediately and to get authorization from judges immediately after the commission of the crime. Our wire tap laws were written in 1974, and there have been no real changes since that time."
Ministers say when they see gang violence in one province it doesn't take long before it's happening closer to home. Saskatchewan Justice Minister, Don Morgan, says he's looking west to predict what is going to happen in his province.
"If there's a problem in B.C. with armored cars and people wearing bulletproof vests, we suspect it's going to happen in six months in Regina or Saskatoon where I'm from, so we want to preempt. We know that criminals are organized, we want to be better organized."
Manitoba Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Dave Chomiak, says the ministers have committed to continue sharing information and strategies surrounding organized crime to combat the growing problem.
"It's better for all of us to organize our activities, our resource, to deal with their organized resources."
Justice officials will meet again in June to look at cooperation between police, crown prosecutors and court systems. They'll also discuss ways of sharing intelligence and information gathering.