LILLEY: Gangsters, guns and CERB a real headache for Trudeau liberals

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Gangs that collect CERB money and use it to fund their illegal activities – from drugs to prostitution to guns – are no longer a matter of speculation. It is in the public domain, and we must investigate.

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We first reported such activity in the Toronto sun in October 2020, and now, news from Montreal has Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives calling for an investigation by the federal government.

A decision rendered at the end of November by Judge Yvan Poulin rejected attempts by several Montreal residents, some of whom are said to have links to a street gang, to recover more than $ 118,000 seized by the police in June 2020. Poulin rejected the attempt based on testimony and evidence, including from Mouad Rasmi’s mobile device.

In his decision, Poulin found that the device “contains numerous elements supporting its participation in a fraudulent scheme related to CERB, including personal data and profiles of several third parties.” The claim was that the personal data pointed to a conspiracy in which gang members coordinated bogus requests for weekly payments of $ 500 per week from the federal program.

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The case was first reported by the Press newspaper, which linked several people associated with the court’s decision to STL, a street gang operating in the Saint-Léonard district in the east of this city. Although there is nothing in the decision indicating that the guns were purchased with the money, Press cites multiple sources over several months showing gangs across Montreal using CERB money to buy guns.

It is similar to what the Sun reported in October 2020 in an article citing sources that the new purchases led to an increase in gun crime in the Toronto area during the pandemic.

“We have learned that dozens of people in the GTA are doing this. This allows them to buy more handguns, “dirty guns” (previously used in crimes) for between $ 400 and $ 800, and new, reliable and powerful Glocks for $ 3,000, “said one. source at the time.

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On Parliament Hill, the Conservatives are calling the Liberal government to the table.

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“Did you know this was happening? If so, how long were you aware of this? If you knew, why didn’t you take action on this problem sooner? »A joint letter from the deputies Raquel Dancho, Pierre Paul-Hus and Stéphanie Kusie declares.

“It is unacceptable that under your watch illegal firearms have been purchased with taxpayer money in the form of CERBs,” the trio said.

The Conservatives are calling on the government “to launch a full and thorough audit of the taxpayer dollars that your government has provided to criminals in the form of pandemic benefits.”

In the past, the idea that ECPs or any other emergency benefit was received by anyone other than angelic, hard-working Canadians has been dismissed with disdain. The reality is that criminals will always find weaknesses in the system to exploit; that’s what they do.

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We can even forgive the government for trying to distribute money so quickly to Canadians who needed it that mistakes were made at the time. Knowing about allegations like this that street gangs – and possibly other criminal elements – used the system requires action.

Ashley Michnowski, spokesperson for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, said the government has zero tolerance for fraud.

“We have and will continue to work with all appropriate jurisdictions and authorities to ensure that these individuals and others who have committed fraud are held accountable,” Michnowski said.

The $ 118,000 seized from the men in this case was seized under Sec. 490 of the Criminal Code, a fact that was confirmed by a court ruling citing allegations of a “fraudulent scheme” against the CERB system. On that basis alone, an investigation should ensue, charges should be laid.

Not to act is to accept and approve of what has happened.

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