Organized Crime—Canada’s Latest National Security Threat

Part IV

Organized Crime—Canada’s Latest National Security Threat

In last week’s edition of The Voice Magazine, I highlighted the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, their Intelligence and Organized Crime Committee, and the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, which was comprised of one federal bureau and ten provincial bureaus, one in every province, and which included Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, as well as covering the 2022 Public Report on Organized Crime in Canada.  Ultimately, however, all paths lead back to the federal level of policing: the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and more importantly, the RCMP.

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CAPC) is more of a national association, and they have a total membership of 1,214 members, of which 469 are active members.  Their Board of Directors is comprised of members with the highest police rank that individuals in policing can attain like the rank of Chief, Commissioner, and Director.

The CAPC list their interests as being dedicated to the support and promotion of efficient policing and to the protection and security of the people of Canada.  The CAPC also had a new mandate introduced in 2013, “safety and security for all Canadians through innovative police leadership,”, and that involves everything from liaising with various levels of government and departmental ministries with legislative and executive responsibility in law and policing to all levels of policing.

When it comes to the matter of national security and organized crime, the CAPC has two separate committees: one on counter-terrorism and national security and the other on organized crime.  Both committees also have their mandates and objectives clearly listed, each is co-chaired, and each has three sub-committees under each committee.

The Counter-Terrorism and National Security Committee’s purpose is to ensure that the work of the Canadian law enforcement community is capable of operating in unison with regard to identifying, preventing, deterring, and responding to criminal activities related to terrorism and national security threats, with an emphasis on operational procedure improvements, legislative reforms, and specialized trainings.  Whereas the Organized Crime Committee’s purpose is to address the needs of the Canadian law enforcement community in combating organized crime, with an emphasis on innovative strategies and contributing towards public policy and legislative changes, but also through international partnerships.


The RCMP is Canada’s federal police force, and they are responsible for dealing with the “baddest of the bad” that both Canada and the world has to offer.  Not surprisingly, the RCMP list “organized crime” and “national security” as operational priorities “1(a)” and “1(b)”, but what should come as a shock is that they identify the greatest threat to Canada’s national security as being the threat of “terrorist criminal activity” both in Canada and abroad.

A deeper look into the RCMP’s approach to national security and organized crime indicated that they are leading the way with national investigative strategies and innovative policing initiatives, approaches that are worthy of applause.

One of the RCMP’s more recent national investigative strategies that addresses organized crime and the trafficking of fentanyl involves a novel approach to policing that connects various stakeholders including the Canadian Border Services Agency, Canada Post, Health Canada, and both domestic and international law enforcement agencies.  Partnerships like these have allowed the RCMP to gather information and data to identify shipping and manufacturing trends, international exporters, domestic distributors, clandestine labs, and criminal networks, and to collaborate with international partners to combat drug trafficking networks.

The RCMP also had other initiatives that attempted to address both national security and organized crime, and they resulted in the creation of new entities like the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime (CIROC), Counter Illicit Finance Alliance (CIFA), Financial Crime Coordination Centre (FC3) and Integrated Money Laundering Investigative Teams.  When it came to combatting organized crime, CIROC’s purpose is to coordinate a national effort to disrupt organized crime by encouraging information sharing between law enforcement agencies, but also with the CBSA, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, and other federal government departments.  In short, their approach to national security and organized crime is to have everyone at the table.

Warning: Anti-RCMP sentiment is on the rise

As important as the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency are in preserving the promise of Canada, the RCMP is just as important, if not more.  The RCMP has to be everywhere that the “baddest of the bad” are located and they have to be there at all times if the “Canadian Dream” is going to continue being a thing.

While the RCMP might not have the FBI’s level of fame or their 99.6% conviction rate, the RCMP had been briefing Canada’s policy makers about national security and organized crime links between organized crime groups and hostile nations more than a decade before policy makers in the United States went on record to state that the ‘cooperation pacts’ between hostile nations and organized crime groups were a major threat to national security.  Perhaps the RCMP would have been the recipient of more global praise had Canada’s federal and provincial policy makers been more proactive about the threat assessment that the RCMP provided them with, like with the RCMP’s Anti-Illegal Gaming Unit (IIGET), which was defunded and disbanded after IIGET had requested for greater powers to allow them to investigate legal casinos, in addition to illegal ones, after a person connected to Asian organized crime was approved to buy a B.C.  Lottery Corporation casino.

If the trailblazing work of IIGET was not enough to convince someone how good we had it with the RCMP, consider what the FBI’s former lead hostage negotiator, turned best-selling author, Chris Voss, said when he gave a talk and stated a fact that would likely surprise most Canadians: that there were only two countries in the developed world that had international kidnapping strategies and who actively worked on freeing kidnapped citizens overseas.  One of those countries was the United States of America, but the other country was us, Canada.  And yet, somehow, some media personalities have still gone on record to disregard all the work that the RCMP does to keep the promise of Canada alive and well, by proclaiming them as “broken” and in need of being “disbanded”, and a greater number of publications and outlets seem all too happy to platform ideas like those.

Progress that is possible

Openness to hard thinking would likely lead us to the realization that there is room for improvement among all our democratic institutions, and that the general neglect that has affected some communities more so than others still might persist for some members.  Most importantly, however, it would lead us to realize that our democratic institutions are fragile, and that those hostile countries that choose to partner with organized crime groups to carry out third-party attacks on us do so because their priority is to weaken our democratic institutions.  All of this matters because our democracy and the freedoms and liberties that come along with it are not enshrined anywhere, but we have them thank to our democratic institutions and the rule of law.

Democracies are dependent on engaged societies that believe in the rule of law, self-governance, and all the other civic institutions that are involved in making them work, but they are not self-executing.  The reason why children in Canada are able to inherit the freedom to pursue their dreams, instead of having to live their parents’ nightmares begins and ends with our democratic institutions and the rule of law.

However, it might be fair to say that, as a society, our greatest problem and perhaps our greatest threat, does not come by the way of any single person, group, or nation, and instead has to do with the thinking that drives us further apart from the idea honorable compromise towards hard-line militant positions, which we all stem to lose a great deal from if the ideas of defunding and disbanding police services actually came to fruition.  Despite it all, no other country is better positioned than Canada for the 21st century, and much of the world would love to have our problems rather than the ones they are faced with.


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