Toronto Police Chief concerned about illegal Cigs

By Gary McHale - The Regional

February 4, 2009

You won't believe it but this past weekend Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair and the Toronto Crime Stoppers called upon the public to provide tips about the sale of illegal cigs which now account for 48% of all sales in the province. Ontario has the highest rate of illegal cigarettes in the country - no surprise there.

Chief Blair called it "a serious problem in our society... the illegal importation of drugs and firearms goes hand-in-hand with the contraband tobacco industry." Toronto Crime Stoppers announced on Saturday that they had become the newest member of The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT), a group of businesses and organizations working to stem the flow of illegal cigarettes into cities and towns across the province.

In April 2008 a USA House Committee on Homeland Security released a report called, "Tobacco and Terror: How Cigarette Smuggling is Funding our Enemies Abroad". At the time Fox News reported the following, "Cigarette smuggling is generating millions of dollars every year that can be reaching terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Qaeda, according to law enforcement sources. In a single case, $100,000 was sent to Hezbollah."

This congressional report stated, "Over the past several years, the illicit tobacco trade has re-emerged as one of the most lucrative smuggling operations in the United States and around the globe. The World Health Organization has estimated that illicit cigarettes account for 10.7 percent, or approximately 600 billion cigarettes, sold globally each year."

A 1994 estimate showed that every man, woman and child on a Native American reservation would have to consume 15 packs per day to account for the volume of cigarettes that were being distributed through the reserves. Since 1994 this illegal trade has greatly increased.

This congressional report ends with the following statement, "This must be brought to an end. It is more than just a matter of hundreds of millions in lost tax revenue – it is a matter of national security."

I should remind the public that in June of 2006 the US Government had US border guards and ATF agents in Caledonia videotaping the so-called peaceful occupiers on DCE. I am sure agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had nothing better to do with their time than to watch Ma & Pa Native do a land claim an hour north of the border. They were not in Caledonia illegally either as they were working with the OPP until a few of the peaceful protesters attacked the OPP and US agents.

I have a few suggestions for the Toronto Police Chief and for Toronto Crime Stoppers. First, they may want to pick up the phone and call Fantino to find out why the OPP stand around watching this "serious problem in our society" grow while doing nothing to stop it. Second they could phone Prime Minister Harper and ask why the RCMP is telling Haldimand Council that they refuse to enforce the Laws of Canada regarding the many illegal smoke shops and illegal smoke factories in and around Six Nations.

Maybe Chief Blair could help Doug Fleming at his next anti-illegal smoke shop protest by telling Fantino to stop lining up OPP officers against residents to ensure these illegal shops remain open. Maybe Chief Blair could phone the Crown in Cayuga and suggest that next time they have one of the key leaders of illegal activities in Caledonia in court on charges that they may just want to prosecute the case instead of dropping the charges.

I wonder exactly where Chief Blair has been for the past 3 years – has he not heard of the illegal cigarette trade in and around reserves? Why do the police need a single person to phone in a tip regarding the illegal trade – can't the police simply drive down the road and see with their own eyes the illegal shops and factories?

In one day the police could, if there was any political will, shut down millions of dollars worth of illegal trade. Normally the police need the public to provide the tips to help law enforcement but why phone in a tip when police refuse to enforce the laws?

Maybe now that Toronto is having such a serious problem with illegal cigarettes the McGuinty Government will finally end Race Based Policing in Ontario and order the OPP to enforce the laws regardless of the colour of your skin or what your race is. Furthermore, Harper's Conservatives shouldn't be so quick to follow in the footsteps of McGuinty by allowing the RCMP to turn such a blind eye to an illegal trade solely because of the race of the criminals involved.

Maybe Diane Finley could sign a petition telling the RCMP to enforce the laws in Haldimand County. Maybe she could also explain to the public exactly why the Harper government is refusing to provide US authorities with the evidence in the attack on the US border guards and ATF agents in Caledonia. For those who have not heard, the Harper government has rejected a US request for the evidence into the attack. As a result, Mr. McHale travelled to the US to meet with border guards and ATF agents and since then has arranged for a few eye-witnesses of the attack in Caledonia to travel to the US to give evidence.

It is truly a shame when governments refuse to enforce the laws and it is left to average citizens to aid in restoring the Rule of Law in Ontario.

You can be assured of one thing, if you were operating an illegal trade that was costing the Province and Federal government millions each month in lost taxes then we would be arrested immediately.

We also know that if Mr. McHale even suggested to someone that they sell illegal cigs then you could bet Fantino would have him charged with counselling to commit something.