VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Calls are mounting for B.C. to launch a public inquiry into money laundering after a report revealed last week that $7.4-billion of dirty money flowed through the province last year.
B.C. Premier John Horgan’s government is set to decide on Wednesday whether to launch a public inquiry or not.
Green Leader Andrew Weaver says the report was based on publicly available information and its authors did not have the power to subpoena witnesses to speak.
“A full-scale public inquiry would ensure that names are named, people are compelled to testify, recommendations can be put forward and more of the information that is otherwise kept confidential right now will come to see the light in a more public forum,” Weaver adds.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West is also in favour of an inquiry, noting he’s offended that criminals profiting from the deadly opioid crisis were able to launder money through real estate, inflating the price of homes by five per cent.
“I just kind of look at the totality of all of this, of everything that has gone on and to me, you know, if this doesn’t call for a public inquiry modelled after the Charbonneau Commission then I don’t know what does,” he adds.
The Charbonneau Commission investigated corruption in Quebec’s construction industry and led to criminal arrests and convictions, as well as the recovery of $95-million in public funds.
But B.C.’s former attorney general Wally Oppal, who led a provincial inquiry into missing and murdered women, says even though inquiries can be very valuable, they need to have clear terms of reference and a firm deadline.
He says the government needs to ask itself some questions before deciding whether to launch a public inquiry.
“The only thing the government has to ask is ‘will we learn something more form an inquiry that we don’t already know?’ and secondly, ‘is there a police investigation going on now that will result in more answers?'” Oppal adds. “So those are the things that they have to know.”
Last week’s report found a total of $47-billion has been laundered across Canada.