The worst of the west

Drugs plus gangs equal the top crime cities in Canada


From Canada’s most dangerous cities: 2010:

Darren Munch was shot multiple times in the middle of an August Saturday afternoon, in Prince George, B.C. The 25-year-old staggered to the middle of residential Oak Street where he collapsed and died, as children played in the sunshine and stunned residents tried to process the scene. Munch’s Facebook photo, which still lives on the Internet, shows a handsome young man in a black patterned T-shirt. He glares from behind dark sunglasses and under a billed cap, striking a don’t-mess-with-me kind of pose. But someone did.

Munch, whose death local RCMP say was “gang-related,” was the fifth of seven murder victims in Prince George so far this year, a disturbing body count in a community of just 74,000. Six of those murders are tied to gangs or drugs, says RCMP detachment commander Supt. Brenda Butterworth-Carr. Yet, the greatest outrage in the community seemed reserved for the Prince George Citizen, for running a front page picture of Munch’s body, sprawled on the pavement in a pool of blood. The next day the Citizen ran a gutsy, unapologetic editorial under the headline: “Take a look in the mirror.” This is a city in trouble, it warned. “It’s only a matter of time, if left unchecked, before the bullets fly across your lawn, before it is your child prone on the pavement, before someone you know goes to jail, or hooks up with a gang.”

Prince George indeed has a problem, as revealed in this, Maclean’s third annual national crime rankings. It finished with the highest crime score among Canada’s 100 largest cities in a measure of crimes committed in 2009. Victoria, the scenic provincial capital with a dark underbelly, is a close second. The results again show the Canadian West has a crime problem, as entrenched, if not as extreme, as that in Canada’s North. Of the 14 cities with the worst crimes scores, none are east of Winnipeg. Half of the top 14 cities are in British Columbia, though it is also the province that recorded a nine per cent drop in crime severity, the best in Canada. Saskatchewan followed by Manitoba have the worst provincial crime scores.

There are many theories but no neat answers as to why crime rates are consistently higher in the West. Criminologists point to high-crime inner-city enclaves in cities like Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina and Vancouver. All have transient populations of young males with limited education, addiction issues, fractured families coping with poverty, substandard housing, a thriving drug trade and a gang culture. Police in B.C. tend to blame lenient sentences that leave chronic offenders on the streets. The western provinces share both common problems, and unique challenges.

An RCMP briefing note written in June for senior staff in B.C. estimates the province has 133 organized crime groups with some 800 members, as well as at least 30 street gangs. Almost all draw much of their revenue from the drug trade. “Violence—including homicide, contract killings, kidnapping, vicious ordered assaults, extortion and arson—continues to be the hallmark of all levels of the drug economy,” it says.

The problem, as Prince George is painfully aware, isn’t limited to B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Coordinated anti-gang strategies in cities like Vancouver and Abbotsford helped drive gangs to new profit centres, concedes Butterworth-Carr. Rather like the pine beetle, which has thrown the Prince George area forest economy into turmoil, gangs are parasitic, voracious and highly mobile. The result in Prince George is an unsettling mix of sophisticated gang activity and thuggish violence, as gangsters sort out the local pecking order. The scale can be massive. In May, RCMP raided a rural marijuana grow operation with 18,000 plants in 20 greenhouses, an operation clearly financed by gang money. Assaults and home invasions are common to intimidate and collect drug debts. One young man almost lost an arm this summer when he was attacked with a samurai sword.

The impact of gangs on civic life is easily measured in Abbotsford, which has the unenviable title of Canada’s murder capital in 2009. Technically, the city recorded nine murders that year, a rate 271 per cent above the national average, but Abbotsford police Chief Bob Rich puts the toll at 11. Two local high school students, very minor drug dealers, were murdered in May 2009 just outside the city boundary, a month before their graduation. Police believe they were collateral damage in a war targeting the Red Scorpion gang led by brothers Jarrod, Jonathan and Jamie Bacon.

Eight of the 11 murders were gang or drug related, says Rich. In addition to pouring substantial resources into gang suppression, Rich has made it a priority to take the anti-gang message to every high school and middle school in the city. This year his team is expanding that mission to draw parents, and the issue of parental responsibility, into the discussion.

Victoria’s second-place crime score, worse than far larger Surrey (eighth) and Vancouver (18th), is fed by a significant transient and homeless population, many with addiction problems. Its downtown is a magnet for the region. “We only police seven square miles and a population of around 98,000,” says Victoria police spokesman Sgt. Grant Hamilton. “However, our municipality is the downtown core for a region of over 350,000. We have all the entertainment, nightclubs and the majority of social services, halfway houses, shelters and low-income housing in our area.”

Nobody in authority in Saskatchewan’s dual metropolises of Regina and Saskatoon likes being featured in a cross-country crime roundup. Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco, reached by phone during his stint as a supervisor of boxing officials at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, freely uses an eight-letter word starting with “bull” to describe Maclean’s coverage of his town. But whether delivered profanely or politely, his message is a common one.

“We don’t compare ourselves to other cities,” he says, pointing out that every community has its own mix of demographics and circumstances and must play the hand it’s dealt. “We compare ourselves with ourselves; we base our estimates of progress on whether we’re reducing crime from year to year.” By that standard, something is going right; over the past two years metro Regina has cut its Crime Severity Index (CSI) score by 24 per cent and metro Saskatoon by 17 per cent. Regina, tops among all cities in crime severity in 2004, has worked its way down to third in the latest numbers. Saskatoon has held steady at fourth.

Regina has continued its record of long-term success at cutting auto thefts, once a special scourge of the Queen City. Over a 10-year period the rate has been slashed by more than half.

The secret has been to define a core group of habitual car thieves and assign manpower to the specific task of making sure that when these flagged individuals are sprung from prison, they comply with their curfews while on probation. “It’s a simple matter of going from door to door at 11 o’clock,” says the force’s director of strategic research, Ryan Newell. “The majority of car thefts are committed by a small group of people, so a small investment in keeping track of them offers a high return.”

The overall picture in both cities is one of slow progress against difficult social pathologies. Social workers in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood, described controversially in this magazine as “Canada’s worst” in 2007, claim to be seeing progress. The city has been demolishing the worst eyesores, and is offering a five-year property-tax holiday for new owner-occupants in North Central and other distressed areas of downtown. But as recently as Sept. 27, North Central reasserted its anarchic spirit with two near-simultaneous stabbings at separate house parties.

Even as auto thefts decline in Regina, they’re being replaced, in part, by smash-and-grab thefts of valuable items left in cars—a particular problem in both Saskatchewan cities (and in Manitoba).

Alberta followed B.C. as the province with the largest one-year drop in its CSI score. Bucking the long-term trend in decline is the northern boom town of Fort McMurray. Alberta’s oil sands capital has grown at the same dizzying pace as its defining industry—nearly 10 per cent a year over the decade. Crime has grown in tandem. It ranked 30th of the top 100 on the CSI in 1999. It worsened to 23rd in 2004, and five years later it ranks fifth, 68 per cent above the national score.

The oil and related service industries draw a transient workforce: disproportionately foreign or displaced young men, with some Aboriginals from outlying communities and plenty of Newfoundlanders. Most have big incomes and plenty of free time. The city’s rocket-like rise in the crime indices is the classic dark-side-of-the-boom-town story.

The city’s big crime issue this year is a discouragingly familiar one in Alberta. More than 30 young men of Somali descent, most of them “known to police” and hailing from Toronto, have been murdered in Alberta since 2005. In Fort McMurray, two Somali men were found dead in an apartment in February and a third turned up in April. The Alberta government responded by pumping millions into programs targeted at Somali youths, and an 18-member integrated-policing team with its own intelligence unit descended on the area, with the province and the municipality splitting the costs. Almost immediately, the ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams) started vacuuming staggering quantities of coke and pot off the street. The temperature of violence in the city seems to have cooled even as the team finds its feet.

ALERT commander Insp. Bob Simmonds, a member of the RCMP, was stationed in Fort McMurray as a young K Division recruit in the late 1970s. “When I was there the first time, the residential areas didn’t even have names yet—just numbers,” he recalls. “The really big concern we had was fellas coming down into the city from camp, having a few too many and getting a little frisky.”

He is struck now by the “boldness” of many recent crimes and he expects even established “bad guys” are unhappy that the blatant lawlessness has drawn ALERT to town. “They’re probably not too thrilled about the late-arriving outsiders who have attracted attention by committing acts of violence up to and including brazen murder.”

While Winnipeg finished 10th on the worst crime list, Manitoba was the only province to see an increase in its CSI score last year. Ten years ago Winnipeg ranked 20th. Its worsening score relative to the rest of the country and a robbery rate that leads the nation has made gang crime a dominant issue in the Oct. 27 mayoral election. Contender Judy Wasylycia-Leis, a former New Democrat MP, says incumbent Mayor Sam Katz has done little in six years in office to reduce crime plaguing the downtown and north end.

Katz, however, points to her voting record in Ottawa against tougher sentencing laws to portray her as soft on crime. Both support an increase in police officers, although Winnipeg has one of the highest policing levels in the country. Katz recently won the endorsement of the Winnipeg Police Association for his commitment to dedicate 20 new officers to a Gang Response and Suppression Plan (GRASP), modelled on a police unit that made inroads in the city’s epidemic of vehicle theft. Auto theft, while 109 per cent above the national average, is a relative bright spot. Ten years earlier it was 160 per cent above average.

Still, there is growing impatience with Katz’s anti-crime record. “Even beyond the practical human problems of victims there’s a sense that crime is becoming a blight on Winnipeg’s civic reputation,” says Brian Kelcey, a former senior adviser to Katz who now writes State of the City, a blog on civic affairs. There has been little follow-through on many of Katz’s high-profile crime initiatives, Kelcey told Maclean’s. “The mayor’s so-called success on this issue has been entirely a paper success to date.”


The worst of the west

  1. This is cost for your weekend 'recreational' marijuana or cocaine use. Ask any family member or friend who is a 'casual' user of these drugs if they are involved in lethal gang wars, or support drug lords. Chances are they will be appalled at the question. The appalling answer is, yes.

    Jane Derry

    • Well Jane, I have to say you are waaaay out to lunch with your assertions. I grow my own cannabis for personal use and am in no way contributing to organized crime. Also, when one looks at the reason for the high price of all illegal drugs it is because of the illegality. Prohibition CREATES organized crime. If drugs were legalized the very few people who have problems could be helped and through education (just like with cigarettes) and the profit would be taken away from the criminals. These are the main effects of prohibition:

      1. perpetuates organized crime.

      2. create profits for the justice/prison industry.

      3. Increased youth use mainly because the widely used cannabis is sold in the same black market as coke and meth. Drug dealers don’t ask for ID.

      4. Provides a means for government to control the population.

      So Jane, it is actually you who is supporting organized crime through your support of prohibition. I am sure you are the one who is appalled and in denial. Drug prohibition is for the ignorant or those that financially benefit like government and gangs. You are being a tad naive and you are being cynically manipulated by a government that knows better.

      • Also Jane, look at the published results for Portugal’s decriminalized drug regime. Use has gone down, HIV rates are down and more people who need it are getting help. It is also worth mentioning that the amount of people that die from illegal drugs is minuscule. Prohibition is not about public safety. It is about money and control. Do the research.

        • i agree with tony_42. if it were legal the stores would be selling it and it would have an strict age limit and a purchase amount limit. and if people begin to get carried away help would be easy to come by. our society made these things illegal for what reason? to keep the cops busy so they have something to do, if there are no drugs there is little need for gangs and thus less crime and thus less work for the RCMP and less taxpayers money needed, but that is to smart a move for the government! and also marijuana is not a drug it is a Herb, and what do people do with Herbs, they are used for healing purposes, eg, marjoram- headache, arthritis, menstrual problems… marijuana is used for them same reasons also to help with sleeplessness, loss of appetite as it induces hunger, and reduces feelings of nausea.
          society thinks only what the government wants them too! its like mind control games, its sick!

          • Sure, and we could also sell heroine, crack, blow, and opium at 7-11. They're from plants, too. They help people to feel good and overcome pain… and they don't cause addictions.

            So, where would your proposed legalization of drugs actually end? And how will you stop the existing drug producing gangs and dealers from selling their highly-potent products on the street like they do right now? Oh, right… you'll need the police to enforce laws. Just like they are so successfully doing now.

            Sounds to me like you and Tony just want your drug problems to be legal and this was a good opportunity to promote your cause.

          • just like to say that, well, your wrong, if the governments were to legalize them, there would be no need for these "orginizations", do you see "cigarette dealers" or "alcohol dealers" no because there is no need for them……

          • No, but I see dope, meth, and heroin dealers shooting each other in my backyard. Their 20th-century predecessors moved on from alcohol and tobacco, towards pot, and then added cocaine, heroin, crack, crystal meth, and so on).

            The legalization argument doesn't work because it looks only at legalizing marijuana, which is a limited view of combating what makes criminals successful. But, unless you want to say that every single possible narcotic currently sold by gangs will always be sold only by the government-authorized stores (crack, crystal meth, and heroin included), this drug legalization strategy of eliminating gangs cannot work.

            Imagine that as soon as pot is legal, the drug producing scumbags will step up their production and pushing of ecstasy or crystal meth, and then produce some new drug with a bigger high that they will push out to the druggies on the street. By your argument, the government would have to start selling those, too, so that they are no more gang-backed drug dealers on the street.

            Can you see the cycle here? The government would have to keep selling stronger and stronger "legal" drugs to fight the gangs, and the gangs would continue to make new stronger drugs (just like they are now). The leap-frog cycle doesn't end. New drug on the street, new drug to be legalized, new drug on the street.

            So, I ask again, where does legalization end?

            Better yet… how would the legalization of marijuana stop gangs?

          • "Their 20th-century predecessors moved on from alcohol"

            And do you know why organized crime used to deal with alcohol? Because it was made illegal by the United States! Do you really think marijuana prohibition is going to be successful when alcohol prohibition failed so spectacularly?

          • I don't think you're getting my point. My point is that you cannot make just one drug legal and expect the gangs to disappear. They will just sell something else to make their money. If you want to make marijuana legal in order to eliminate gangs, you will fail. After legalization, the gangs will just move on to pushing something else that is lucrative. They already have coke, crack, meth, ecstacy, heroin, and others. If you want to legalize marijuana in order to eliminate gangs, then you must also legalize all of those drugs and ask the government to regulate them all, so that you take all the drug money away from the gangs.

            If you look at prohibition of alcohol, it's a perfect example of my point. I'm sure that people argued that ending the prohibition of alcohol would eliminate crime… but here we are today with a huge global drug trade problem that is run by organized crime. By your argument, all gangs that smuggled booze should have completely collapsed when prohibition ended. But they didn't go away, they just moved on to other drugs and became even more powerful.

            So, would you agree that the gang/drug/crime problem goes way beyond pot? And, are you prepared to ask any Government (Conservative, Liberal, or other) to regulate and sell all harmful/fatal narcotics to Canadians to support your argument?

            Or, like many others in the debate, do you just like smoking pot, and the anti-gang discussions are a convenient means for you to try and get it legally?

            People are getting shot dead in my backyard. I have children. This is not about whether it's ok for Canadians to smoke pot. It's about fighting crime.

          • uhmm if you were smart crack isnt a plant its whiped up on a stove made from coke , cut with other shit to make it feel like its more, and if you were smart yes heroin and cocaine is aplant and opiom is grown to make heroin… and btw heroin and cocaine were legal befor , to help with addictions they used it like methadone, to help people get off drugs they made coke and people got addicted so they made heroin to help get off coke and they got addicted so where are we really getting our drugs from, what tony is trying to say is weed is not a drug its a medicane you do not get addicted if i wanted i could go out and hate every person who pops lorazapan or who uses oxies for pain or uses morphine for pain or even someone who uses advil for a headache everyone one of those drugs is legal with a painkiller sideeffect except weed doesnt have a addiction part it just has the healing part and it makes you relax more, if they legalized weed there would be help easier to get if you had to quit weed and didnt want t just like ciggerrettes they made gum patches , its easy to get your hands on i can go to the health clinic and get some free gum , the only problem with legalizing weed is the drug dealers are onna haft to find some other way to make money bc most people who have records cant find a job so they haft to sell drugs rob people ect if weed was l;egal there would be more pills on the street bc of the simalaratiez in prices, so really i dont think weed should be legal just decriminilazed bc then the drug dealers can still sell it but will still get in trouble and the people who just use it wont get in trouble for something they need when they can go to the docters and get it the drug dealers will have no way to make money so they will haft to sell crack blow or heroin, and honestly all this bullshit about weed being a gateway drug is bullshit the first drug i tried was extacy and weed helped me get off exctacy bc it was a nice buzz but it didnt get me so fucked up i couldnt stand and i could still go to work high and i would eat much more , i quit pills and started weed and within one month i went from 200 – 250 50 pounds in 1 month now thats a improvement if you ask me weed is not harmfull at all i acually went to my sats high and scored 1080, witch is pre fuckin good if you ask me ciggerettes are leal they kill so many people per year caifiene kills more people then weed does….

          • well in Amsterdam…(my friends just got back from there few weeks ago….they are once and while pot users…not total pot heads) they have special coffee shops where well you can have a coffee/ beverage and yes order marijuana, you are only allowed a certain limit, which reported by my friends that only allowed 5grams…so you can order their legeal limit and that is it, their Government controls it quite well, and yes their crime rate is down, so why can we not do the same here?! age limit restrictions and yes amount restrictions, I can imagine it would solve alot of problems!!

        • But are the Portugese getting quality gear? If they are then why do so many of them live in Toronto?

          Answer that!!

      • Tony:

        The seed you purchased, I am sure, came from a harmless shop owner on the corner…or perhaps it too was smuggled in by organized crime?

        I am always mystified at the lengths people go to to justify idiot decisions. The only ones who believe drugs are harmless are the users themselves; everyone else can tell you're stoned. Trust me. And it simply can not compare to drinking alcohol on anything more than a semantic level. Alcohol is part of the human body (as in it occurs in the human body naturally) and is most often consumed and used without intoxication as part of everyday living.

        Illegal drugs are illegal because they degrade human life. They turn good people into morons; sensible people into scatter brains reminiscent of dementia, and way to many people into husks. I'd like you to ask yourself where it would end? Marijuana, in all of its numbskull glory? Cocaine, in its car accidents and drug wars? Crystal meth, with its mugging and bug marks? Or maybe LSD and its schizophrenia?

        • Sir Tony, your posit is stupid and your logic flawed. Take one hundred drinkers and I'll show you two alcoholics. Take one hundred drug users and I'll show you thirty with mental and social problems. And frankly, I don't give a rats ass about Portugal — it's not my country. However, the decriminalization only pertained to users; dealers and criminals are still treated like dealers and criminals.

          Stoned isn't reality. I wish some people knew that.

          • Stoned isn't reality. I wish some people knew that. ??? come on really that is our best, you can do better.
            that sir is why it cost so much, and the attraction to it, same can be said for
            lets pick, drinking, is it reality? or an escape, how many smokers lite up cause
            they are stressed, again an escape. now with your logic, does cannabis create mental
            problems? or do people with mental problems find cannabis attractive? alcohol creates
            alcoholics and shows those with addictive personalities this is true and proven, unlike your comment
            which is your opinion only.
            And frankly, I don't give a rats ass about Portugal — it's not my country. this is a problem, cause we all live on one planet, and are connected no matter how hard you refuse to believe this, they are people like you and me, no different, they put their pants on one leg at a time also, so lok to that country as an experiment and if it works we learn, if it fails, we learn from it. thanks

          • well I can add to that…I know a person who has had a very serious head injury due to a accident, years later they are still dealing with a lot of pain and complications…..during the day they do their medications, and try to funtion through out their work day with headaches, migraines, andstruggles throught thier day, some days so bad they cannot even go to work…now it is night time and they have to sleep, they are stressed out, restless, body wants to sleep, but the head and mind will not let them, so they use a little bit of pot to help them unwind, relax, and aids them to sleep, no this person does not get ripped right out of their tree! but enough to relax them, I have seen the majorly good improvements over the while they have been doing this….opne mind!

        • what are you smoking, i agree with Tony to point i mean if you want evidence of it look at holland particularily Amsterdame they legalized everything and yet they technically have less crime (for it's populational size) than us statistically speaking their biggest crime is bike theft. why? because it's CONTROLLED and taxed by the GOVERNMENT!!!and YOU my drunk friend are smoking drugs if you think ALCOHOL is NOT a drug and that it causes none of the things you mentioned i gaurantee that MORE families in ANY part of the WORLD will break down and cry due to the death or injury of someone they new and loved than with anything else….

        • are you SERIOUS? I think your views on addiction is a bit skewed, considering you think you're only going to get 2 people out of 100 drinkers that are alcoholics, by what definition is that? And secondly you don't think alcohol users have mental and social problems? Again, take a look at what happened with the prohibition of alcohol. It was the exact same thing that's happening with the prohibition of drugs. The reality is that IT DOES NOT WORK, and by creating that illegal market, you are creating the crime that goes with it. And to answer your question, you can buy seeds for marijuana plants that do not come from drug dealers on the corner that are selling crack and heroin to junkies actually. And I'm not sure if you've looked into it, but I'd like you to take a look at the amount of domestic disturbances that have been caused under the influence of alcohol versus the so called abuse of cannabis. Being a recovered drug user myself, my gateway drug? It was alcohol. It wasn't marijuana, it wasn't cocaine… it wasn't even cigarettes. It was alcohol. You make it sound like alcohol doesn't degrade human life… guess what… YOU'RE WRONG. Cocaine and car accidents? Really? How about drunk driving? I'm not condoning the use of drugs, but you can't make the argument that alcohol doesn't play a role in this stuff in the same way narcotics do, because essentially, alcohol itself is also a drug. The difference? It's legal. Drugs are definitely harmless, but so is alcohol. That's where your argument fails.

          • I meant to say ARE NOT harmless

        • Alcohol? I don't smoke mj, but I have never seen a life destroyed by it the same I have with alcohol in my years working with delinquent teens and broken families. Domestic violence is almost always linked to alcohol, not mj. Nearly 100,000 people each year die in the USA for alcohol, few if any, die from direct use of mj (not sure what stat's are for Canada, but not that far off). Nearly 1/2 a million die every year from cigarettes in USA (again, don't know about Canada, but it's likely the similar). Yet, alcohol and cigarettes are just these socially acceptable things we don't ever consider. Somehow mj is labelled as a demon. I am not in favour of mj but I am curious how it is demonized in comparison to the legal ones that really cause harm socially and in families.

          • again it does not “demonize” PPL…coke, heroin, meth, crack does, ruins the person they are….like I asked before…when is the last time you saw a violent pot smoker?! and yes good point, cigerettes, booze are socially accepted, but pot is the demon? really? booze kills alot of people like you said, so does cigerettes, costs the health care billions of dollars worth of the illnesses…so what is the real demons here?!

        • well I do not use drugs!! and I feel Marijuana should be legalized, as far as the other drugs – NO! but Maijuana, yes. It does have a lot of good medical benifits, when is the last time you saw a violent pot smoker? maybe on your refridgerator maybe…but seriously? it should be, it would take away a lot of the crime behind it, the Governement could control it, and make it work, with strict rules. I know a few PPL who do use it for medical purposes, after years of medications that do nothing but cause more trouble, I have a few friends who are insominiacs, and it helps them sleep, and no they are not drug users! there is alot of work and issues to legalizing it yes, i understand that, but we should at least look into it and try and see what options we can come up with…having an open mind about it,

          • marijuana benifits…..
            – people with seriosu illnesses, PPL dealing with serious amounts of pain, insominiacs, and so many more aliments….have an open mind, yes it gets into the wrong hands, young kids and what not but open mind about it and see the other side of it, what it does to also help PPL. Most responsible PPL have a time and place when they use it, respectfully.

      • Good luck to you Tony. Explain your 'philosophy' to your employer, your creditors, your children, parents, etc. I know their confidence in you will grow by leaps and bounds.
        Perhaps you're deprived of recreational means, the current age offers so few diversions, we're really hard done by. Opting for illegal drug use is certainly the top-shelf choice for those with active intelligence, imagination to learn some meaningful methods to cope, and dependants who count on them for consistancy and reliability.
        Yes Tony, I have used illegal drugs in the past, with some regularity. I just don't think its in any way reasonable to lash out at those who see the gross harm that accrues as an obvious result of the proliferation of this behaviour and the criminal groups that are jumping over each other to promote it. Its got to be cut down because entire countries are being inundated by the harm caused by these hideous trades. Drug use flat out screws up lives of users…. I've seen that many times.
        Again good luck. You could well be needing it. And I don't wish you any bad luck, but when you court ill fortune you often get it in an avalance.

    • As a casual drug user I applaud drug-related violence of all type. It gets rid of the posers and high school students who make getting high such a pain. Some people just shouldn't do drugs. Like people who go on and on about how high they are and are unable to keep their mouths shut and just enjoy the buzz.

    • You obviously believe everything you are told by the corporate media on your television. Canada is a great place to live, "gang wars" and "drug lords" are grossly exaggerated by the news.

      • In my backyard, they're not exaggerated. They are put on the front page of every newspaper so that we can see exactly what a drug crime problem we have. No more hiding our eyes.

    • Your appaling entry fails on so many levels, Ms. Derry. In Quebec (which by the way were it a country would have the highest rate of pot-consumption in the world, R.O.C coming in second) I can assure you ''BC bud'' is viewed as an extremely luxurious import i.e. we get high on our own supply, almost exclusively. It's more than likely that Quebec is the 2nd largest producer of Marijuana in Canada after B.C. I'll go ahead and assume we also export our pot to the maritime provinces, Ontario and New England, all safety beacons in contrast to the West. Now back to Quebec's crime rates.

      Do you see what I see? That your reasoning is deeply flawed? Now what you may not see: your placing of the words recreational and casual in brackets shows readers that you are deeply out of touch with what's ''hip and square'' the days and thus your input is laughable.

      • So, if you admit a big drug problem, does that mean that the citizens of Quebec don't report all crimes? That would explain a few things about the stats.

    • What I put in my body is none of the governments business, and I don't appreciate you blaming the average citizen fior failed government policy.

      If drugs were legalized, regulated and taxed, then organized crime related to it would dry up. Consider this scenario: A drug dealer is robbed of his product and money. What does he do? He hunts down the robbers and tries to kill them to retrieve his stuff. He can't call the police because they would arrest him for his illegal business.

      A convenience store owner is robbed of his product and money. What does he do? He calls the police and they carry out an investigation to try to catch the robbers. He later claims the loss with his insurance company and is reimbursed for his lost product and money.

      The only difference between the two is that one has to resort to vigilante style justice because the government has forced his business into a black market. If drugs were legalized, regulated and taxed the same was as liquor and cigarettes (two substances far worse for you than marijuana by the way) then this black market would disappear and those who sell drugs could operate within the law.

      By the way, one good way to keep drugs out of kids' hands is to legalize and regulate it like cigarettes and alcohol. After all, I don't know of many drug dealers who ask to see I.D.

      • How about simply locking up the drug-dealing scumbags in jail for 50 years for poisoning our children? No need to legalize anything.

        • I agree. The manitoba liquor commission should be ashamed. For a person who has probably never smoked pot you sure are opiniated. As a user, i can safely say that pot is NOT a harmless drug as some claim, it can be addictive and down right ridiculous to use in many circumstances. Here in Winnipeg however, I would say 90+% of people would agree that many other issues plaguing the city. Alcohol, cigarettes (gimme), suicides, drunk driving, poverty, racism, lack of education and general disregard of society's values are OUR problems. Just today,(feb 17) a man was stabbed by two women over a case of beer. Again, not condoning the use of marijuana…but everyone needs a crutch to live whether your aware of it or not. Excessive exercise is probably a bigger 'epidemic' than the use of marijuana. A sensible policy created by a new generation is needed to effectivly eliminate a law that causes more damage than the drug itself.

    • Jane, this is not the cost of peaceful, hard-working adults who choose to smoke marijuana in their own homes. It is the cost of drug prohibition, which has caused artificiall high prices, profits, secrecy, and violence everywhere it has been imposed. Grow up and learn to mind your own business about the choices of other people. Legalize marijuana for adults and they would buy it at the store, causing no more violence or disruption than the far larger number of adults who buy alcohol and tobaco legally. And guess what – I'm a Tory. People all over the political spectrum realize that the war on drugs, especially the war on marijuana, is pointless, futile, and causes most of the problems we're reading about.

  2. "All have transient populations of young males with limited education, addiction issues, fractured families coping with poverty, substandard housing, a thriving drug trade and a gang culture."

    For those who don't live in Saskatoon, what Macleans is trying say without saying it is we have a problem with a hundred years of failed aboriginal policies. Let's be honest here.

    • Failed aboriginal policies…..as if get a job and join society …we all have had a few speed bumps to overcome….time to man up and improve your lives!!!!!

      • well said! enough hand outs are given. stop blaming the "policies" and start encouraging these individuals to take responsibility for themselves and their choices!

    • I completely agree with Kelly but whose fault is the "limited education" when aboriginals get "free" education. I grew up in Regina and remember working my butt off to pay for my schooling. I also remember driving to my grandma's house past all the new houses on the reserves given by the governments that had the windows and doors smashed out of them…
      I was also afraid to go the the malls and sometimes leave my area as a young girl for fear that the "tomboy 15" native girl indian gang would slice my cheeks and give what they referred to as "permanent smiles" by cutting from the mouth up..And I remember a popular high school teacher who pulled over at the side of the road to help a stalled vehicle and was subsequently tied to the bumper and dragged to his death…
      Personally, i think the government has given up and can't say I blame them

    • Thumbs up!

    • Why do "aboriginals" need a "policy", when the rest of us overcome our difficulties with sustained hard work? I grew up in a household without a father, and we were pretty damn poor. I also struggled with alcohol and marijuana abuse. But I have never thought that I had a right to force the Canadian taxpayer to pay for my housing, schooling, healthcare, etc. Stop the whining, work harder, and either assimilate into Canada or get out.

  3. And Its people like you Ron that do not understand what a community like mine is all about. It is not driven by Race to these problems. It is driven by poverty, oppression, and systemic barriers. The Youth are getting trapped into a cycle that needs support.

    • the youth are getting trapped into a cycle that was started 100 years ago! and today with poverty and all that, no farm food of our own but struggle to get food, cant build our own homes have to struggle to buy one, yep this started 100 years ago when farms were subject to a tax and families lost their farm, home and everything because of greedy governments thinking they actually own the land above everyone else that was here before!
      now we depend on jobs, money and all that sorts when it is just creating crime, poverty and struggle. if a farm is what was depended on 100 years ago to feed a whole family and were happy and fulfilled with joy, then thats what is missing today- no one was poor till the governments took the farms away from the families, thats when the poverty and struggle started!!

    • systemic barriers are no fun.

    • Moved my teenaged boys from there and that was the smartest thing to do as their peers are being guided to the gangs and a few are no longer living peegee has gone to crap!!! good luck undoing it.

  4. Haha, what a joke. If Vancouver was as small as Prince George they would be #1. Just let all of the drug dealers kill eachother off then we'll be off the #1 spot and back to #4.

    • ^Its per capita…….

      and there will ALWAYS be drug dealers. Yeah a generation will be killed off and another batch will spring up…thats just basic sense.

      • It's basic 'science', you mean. Like eugenics. That was a science, once.

    • your an idoit mcleans callulated the information in with ratios and percentages. The crime rate in vancouver went down being from both prince george and vancouver i feel much safer in vancouver prince goerge is a stinky crime bowl

  5. As i read the mcleans article about Regina, I totally agree with mcleans. I live in north central, I see the gangs walking around, the teenage gangs drunk, stoned, swearing and in the morning i get to see there spray painting work. I see the the police driving around, yet they drive by the prostitute that just got dropped off. I have asked for more lights in the parks and the streets even more garbage cans to try and help this area. The city has said no to all. Pat stop kidding yourself the work that has been done has taken too long and is not enough. Regina is where it is because of the city of Regina leaders, and the provincial leaders. We need less unions and a government that will kick the aboriginals in the ass and get them working instead of living off the people that do work. Until this province opens its eyes and grows some balls Regina, and the rest of Saskatchewan will always be a crime ridden province.

    • I second that!!!!!!

    • i'm regina myself and couldn't agree more PAT FIACO IS A MORRON!!!

    • Sorry, but I lost you at "We need less unions." What does this have to do with crime caused by unemployment? Unions mean better wages, better job and financial security. Do you really think that getting rid of unions or putting more garbage cans around the city will lessen gang activity or illegal drug use? You seriously need to reconsider your position on this, these variables couldn't be more unrelated. You might as well say that the real problem is bad hair cuts and clothing, and if people simply had more style then crime would decrease.

    • What do you expect from a Mayor with a high school diploma and had his head bashed in too many times from boxing??

    • Hi Bob, You will now be labelled a racist for not appreciating the culture that surrounds you! We moved from Regina to a small town in Saskatchewan primarily to get away from the mess, threats, crime and vandalism. Unfortunately our small town has now become a dumping ground for the worst cases from Social Services, Justice, and the nearby reserves. The community has been degraded as you say because no politician will do their job, the police are neutered and prevented from doing theirs, and the lawyers make fortunes as lenient do-gooder judges keep the system disfunctional.

  6. One reason B.C. has so much crime has to do with the low minimum wage. Makes crime and drugs that more enticing. Shame on B.C.

  7. Prohibition: is there ANYTHING that it hasn't made much much worse?

    • In eighteenth century England gin was legal and half the population were constantly drunk,sick and dying.Come the nineteenth century those who practised a strict chapel and church going lifestyle prospered.Legalization will work over a long period of time but what a drastic step to take. Darwins survival of the fittest

  8. War on marijuana

    Hearst sympathized with Harry J. Anslinger in his war against marijuana. Between 1936 and 1937, Hearst associated marijuana with hemp in his newspapers and published many of the stories that Anslinger fabricated.[citation needed] Hearst played a major part in aiding the anti-marijuana movement, leading to its prohibition in the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937,[18] a law which also effectively outlawed hemp.
    others argue that Hearst's paper empire (he owned hundreds of acres of timber forests and a vast number of paper mills designed to manufacture paper from wood pulp) in the early 1930s was threatened by hemp, which: 1) like wood pulp, could also be used to manufacture paper[19] and 2) also had an advantage over wood pulp, because it could be regrown yearly as well.[19] Subsequent commentators pointed out that the Hearst chain was one of the biggest buyers of newsprint in the U.S.,[20] and had a strong interest in a low price for newsprint. If anyone could produce large amounts of cheap newsprint from a new crop it would lower Hearst's purchasing cost for newsprint.
    so along with immigration being a problem for race supremacists, one of the richest men at the time stood to lose his fortune if hemp was used instead of trees for paper, these are the reason pot is illegal? that and a fiction book written by a person with dementia who never even seen a pot plant with no medical or police input. so in short prohibition was created to control immigrants, and stop a guy from losing his fortune by clear cutting the world, bet you once all the trees are almost gone, pot will be legal world wide. and those like hearst will make a killing on hemp.

  9. This is the real wild west. One of the last frontiers. We lie on the edge of immense forests and range. The haunting environment creeps into the city's innermost alleys and stirs the inner beast.

  10. I can only comment on what I will describe as "reliable" hearsay. That being, the PG mayor and council are dirty, the city is being run like a drug gang of it's own. The mayor owns the councillors and water runs downhill. That, along with the chronic unemployment, is a big part of the problem, at least so I've been told by a very long time resident who has had his hands in the doodoo.

    • Unless you or your buddy has some evidence, you'd best be careful with this type of B.S. rumour posting. Ever hear of libel or slander?

      I can't say that Dan Rogers is perfect or innocent, but I know that he worked his way up from being a community sports reporter in the '80's to a Councilor, and now Mayor, and has always appeared to have honesty and good intentions. If you want to say otherwise, back it up.

  11. I work in Vancouver with youth at risk aged 12 to 19. Over 10 years the youth came home with ounces of coke, pounds of weed, did beat up other peers to the point that they barely made it out of the scenario alive and when brought to the attention of police or probation officers, no one would even charge the youth or breach them when they had already an probation order. One youth who had assaulted other peers 7 times was never charged even so the police was called every-time. He ended up going to jail killing a men when he was 17. He beat a 52 year old men to death.His sentence was 1.5 years. When he came out of jail he dealt cocaine. Another peer who was coming home with 8 grams of cocaine, baseball bats, knifes and so on was never charged. Endless reports about what happened to the police did not make them charge the kid. The police officers said always the same. "It will be thrown out of court anyways." When I told them that it was better to charge them anyways so there name is at least known to the police and courts, I got a smile like "who gives a s…
    If I would be 16 and never get charged even after so many times being naughty, I of course believe the law is not going to punish me. Every time they get away with something I do it again and dare more. These boys and girls are the next gang members. They actually would get more help if there charged and the kids that were fortunate enough to get a tough judge stopped there actions for the most part. Ever since they changed the youth justice system years ago, I have the feeling to be left alone by the courts or police.

  12. legalize and tax the purchase of marijuana and we would see a huge decline in this type of crime and an increase in tax funds to use for social services, seems simple but too many people think the evil weed is just that

  13. parents who cant afford to have children, just shouldnt. but try to tell that to bored girls.

    • Don't just blame the girls, the real crime in all so-called "progressive" countries is the number of males who see nothing wrong with impregnating women and then walking away from any responsibility for the offspring.

    • What about the horny boys?

  14. What could you expect in a society which has no real culture to offer to it's young people? Widespread usage of drugs is only one of the symptoms of a widespread cancer which is eating away our soicety.
    In ant case, true criminals are TV bosses who , through their programming, mess up young people's heads.

  15. Notice the near-perfect positive correlation between crime and percentage of the population that is indigenous.

    It's not the elephant in the room, it's the fu**ing planet Jupiter in the room.

    • exactly. and it isnt for the lack of handouts every year.

    • If that's correct, then can you say that the indigenous population grew at the exact same rate as the crime rate did?

      I grew up in Prince George, the #1 city this year. There always was, and still is, a proud First Nations population. But there weren't always gang-bangers and scumbag drug dealers present as there is today.

      I'd bet that there are other corellations here for you to consider… like the size and effort of the police force, potential migration of criminals from major centres, or even the demographics of a region. How about the effectiveness of police and crown council in each region in keeping the criminals off our streets?

      • He didn't say that the "indigenous" percentage of the population was the ONLY factor correlated with high crime rates. He said that it is A factor, and it surely is. You can be an apologist for this group of people all you want, but we all know what it's like, in the real world, to live in places where there are many "aboriginals." Good, hardworking, peaceful people in every "group", but the statistics about this particular group are overwhelming and they persist over decades. Enough is enough. Legalize drugs, but crack down on real crime — no matter what the race of the perpetrator, those who commit crime against the person or property of others should be severely punished, no excuses about their "difficult" upbringing or "racism."

  16. Too many immigrants! Too much welfare! Victoria has to be the welfare capital of the world. The government has no incentive to put these people to work where they could be productive members of our society. Thereby feeling a sense of self esteem and worthiness.
    The government has created generations of people who feel it is their rightful entitlement to be taken care of by the taxpayers. Perhaps there is an alteritive motive for this as they can count on their votes at election time. Or maybe on the bigger scheme of things looking to the One World Govenment who want to depopulate the world by 95% starting with what they refer to as the useless eaters.

    • You are aware that B.C. has the lowest minimum wage in the Western World right? You are also aware that welfare in B.C. hasn't seen a cost of living increase in the past 8 years right? This is all despite inflation, rising food prices, increased taxes and rising rent.

      If Victoria is the "welfare capital of the world" then there are some seriously needy people out there who are living far below the poverty line.

  17. Wow I'm just happy that it isn't black people being blame for the crime, white ppl. do as much or I must say even more damage. Thank god, black ppl have arise from crime, drugs and gangs.

    • in case you didnt knowthe vast majority of crime in Alberta and Saskatchewan is not by white or black people, it is the Native population. the problem is becoming an epidemic. no rules and no punishments leads to crime.

    • Besides, there are about 100 black peple in western canada!

    • Are you freeking serious? The statistics are drastic, and real-life experience bears them out. Look at the States. A wonderful country in some ways, but every city there which has a substantial black population, also has horrible crime. We're not talking about stealing food or clothes "to survive", we're talking vicious assaults, rape, and murder. Poverty didn't cause me or my ancestors to commit such atrocities against fellow human beings; why is poverty or racism allegedly "causing" blacks to commit them, every day, wherever they are?

  18. Why is heroin illegal then? Or crystal meth? In fact, why is armed robbery illegal? We haven't been able to stop armed robbers in Canada, so let's make it legal. We could tax all the armed robbers, help them to do it in a safer manner, and the government would make money from it.

  19. prince george is a stinky poluted crime bowl why would any working class people want to live in a city that smells like a rotting cheese burger, looks like a getto and can make people sick? Downtown is in poor shape..the 4 seasons pool is rotting … and the main public library is located close to 2 adult stores, worse then vancouver…at least vancouver has a veiw! prince george is ugly and stinky not all the problems are created from the natives i just named 2

  20. Whatever happened to Canadian standards?

  21. Hi Bob, We now have bums on the downtown street corners and the crime and vandalism is just as bad as in Regina on a per capita basis. A cultural benefit? The most disgraceful part of this is that the politicians, lawyers and judges do not live in the "Hood" of the ghetto areas so why would they care? Who does care is the working poor and the yound couples and low income elderly who trying to make a living and are struggling to get by when their parasitic unemployable neighbors not only get free rides on housing, medicines, dental care, food, transportation and education but also often free rides in the criminal justice system. Start praying Bob, as it looks like only divine intervention will change it.

  22. No matter how you slice the pie folks … if grass was so harmless and the $ revenue was so great then, ALL the governments of the entire world would have legalized it by now. They haven't and any person with the IQ of a St. Bernard should be able to figure it out. It is not called DOPE for nothing, folks !

  23. British Columbia has always been a resource based economy. With subsequent downturns in all 3 major resource industries- forestry, mining, and fishing; there has emerged a population of young people who don't have those opportunities that were available for their parents and grandparents. People need work and with a high demand for marijuana, there has emerged a market that can be tapped. Of course, the money involved in the drug trade has lured organized gangs into the business. Perhaps, the only true proactive measure would be to legalize marijuana, and decriminalize the other harder drugs with the idea of developing sustainable communities that can promote a positive harvest of marijuana to meet a demand that isn't going away anytime soon.

  24. We need to force these cretins into treatment. If they refuse then we should have a piece of heavily guarded land or an island and ship them out onto it with all the drugs and guns they want and let them shoot it out and leave us alone. I am so sick of society looking for an excuse for people like this. Make them accountable for their actions.



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