Manitoba wants Hells Angels deemed criminal organization
New classification would help with future court cases against members
The Manitoba government is taking the first step to have an infamous motorcycle gang declared a criminal organization.
Justice Minister Andrew Swan announced on Thursday that his department has submitted an application to have the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club added to a schedule of criminal groups.
"We are not only the first province, we believe we're the first jurisdiction in North America to take this innovative step to deal with organized crime," Swan told CBC News.
If the province's petition is successful, lawyers would no longer have to prove in future court cases that the organization is involved in criminal activity.
"It will simplify that process…. As one of my officials said, we don't have to prove that the sun rises in the east day after day. The judge can then take notice of that and allow proceedings to go ahead more quickly," Swan said.
Swan said it’s the first use of the process under the recently changed Manitoba Evidence Act. It could take months for the province's application to be approved, he added.
The group will have an opportunity to object to the classification in writing, and an independent, external review panel will review the material to determine if the group is a criminal organization.
There may be similar applications for other groups to be declared criminal organizations if evidence supports the claim, he added.
Swan said he hopes the federal government will follow suit with a similar process for declaration.