British Columbia

Conservatives pledge to create official list of criminal gangs

The Conservatives brought out former public safety minister Stockwell Day Thursday to announce that if re-elected, they would create a formal list of criminal gangs, similar to the one that exists for designated terrorist groups.

Former public safety minister Stockwell Day also announces more funding for anti-gang initiatves

A violent gang war has played out on the streets of Surrey, B.C., this year. The Conservatives pledged a crackdown on criminal gang activity during a campaign stop in the city Thursday. (Shane MacKichan)

The Conservatives brought out former public safety minister Stockwell Day Thursday to announce that if re-elected on Oct. 19, they would create a formal list of criminal gangs, similar to the one that exists for designated terrorist groups.

The list would remove the need for the Crown to prove in individual court cases that a specific gang is a criminal organization.

Day made the announcement in Surrey, B.C., alongside Conservative candidates Dianne Watts, the former mayor of Surrey, Harpreet Singh and Sucha Thind.

Day was public safety minister from 2006 to 2008 and held several other cabinet portfolios after that. He represented the B.C. riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla from 2000 to 2011 — first for the Canadian Alliance and then the Conservatives.

A Conservative government would put an additional $2.5 million into the Youth Gang Prevention Fund, originally launched in 2006, to help crack down on gang-related crime and steer youth away from a criminal lifestyle, Day said.

Last May, the federal government promised to hire 100 additional Mounties for Surrey and spend millions of dollars to fight a low-level, drug-fuelled turf war that has set off scores of shootings and killed one man.

In a statement, Watts — who, as mayor of Surrey, called for a province-wide approach to tackling the gang problem — said that neither the Liberals nor the NDP would make fighting crime a priority.

"Justin Trudeau's sole criminal justice priority is to change the law to allow the sale of marijuana in corner stores," said  Watts. 

"Justin just doesn't understand the importance of cracking down on organized criminal gangs."

The NDP, under Thomas Mulcair, would make communities less safe, she argued.

"Mulcair and the NDP oppose our actions to increase penalties for gangs and dangerous criminals because they wrongly put the so-called rights of criminals ahead of the rights of victims," she said.

With files from The Canadian Press

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