‘Cross-partisan’ group renews call for B.C. money-laundering inquiry

Municipal leaders and prosecutors have joined forces to call for a public inquiry into money laundering.

The group includes Vancouver Coun. Christine Boyle, who will put forward a motion Tuesday asking that the city endorse the call.

A recent poll found 77 per cent of the public support an inquiry.

B.C. Premier John Horgan has previously said a full inquiry would be too expensive.

Boyle is asking council to vote on pressuring the province to call an inquiry.

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“Vancouverites and British Columbians deserve a full and extensive public inquiry to uncover wrongdoing to restore the rule of law,” Boyle said.

“This is about money and crime and it’s about understanding how our own public institutions allowed it to happen for so long.”

Some of the most vocal advocates were together in one room to ask tough questions of other elected officials.

“Everyone knows what’s going on,” former Crown prosecutor Sandy Garossino said. “Everyone knows it’s been wrong and nobody is doing anything about it. And why do we only have two elected officials here today?

“I wouldn’t be doing my duty as an elected official, I wouldn’t be doing my duty as mayor, if I weren’t here with Coun. Boyle today,” Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West said.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby insists a public inquiry is still on the table but says quicker action is needed to stop the flow of criminal cash right now.

Garossino says external factors, not current recommendations, are having the most impact.

“Our correction in money laundering coincides almost exactly with China’s hard crackdown on capital outflows, which have impacted every casino and real estate market on the Pacific Rim,” she said.

Simon Tremblay, the assistant-chief deputy of the Charbonneau Commission, travelled to Vancouver with one simple message: without the power to compel testimony, the trust of British Columbians will never be restored.

“Without such authority, the chances of success are very slim — especially the matters you’re dealing with. Trust me.”

In Richmond on Monday night, council called for a full public inquiry into money laundering, plus increased funding and enforcement to combat organized crime, money laundering and illicit gaming.

“I think a public inquiry could have a certain benefit but really we need action, we need action now,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said. “We need regulations, we need resources, we need more enforcement.”

West says politicians need something else.

“It takes some courage to speak out on this issue and so we’re hoping we will see that from other elected leaders,” he said.

West and Boyle believe others will join the bandwagon for the right reasons or eventually bow to the growing pressure for a public inquiry.

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