How our B.C. government and others profit from B.C. Bud

Greed is such a simple motive. It’s been said for some time now that B.C. Bud, the illegal pot-growing industry of British Columbia, produces more economic activity than either of our major traditional but declining natural resource industries,  forestry and fishing.

While our provincial government has been ostensibly waging an official “War on Drugs” to suppress the seemingly irrepressible marijuana grow-ops, on the other hand, our elected politicians and crown corporations have been–in an ad hoc fashion–quietly supporting and handsomely profiting from the illegal drug trade.

Shocked? You should be! But let me clarify. I’m not really talking about envelopes stuffed with cash slipped from hand to hand under the table. Direct bribery is, after all, so socially distasteful. Though certainly, it does happen probably more often than comes to light because since ancient times…

The wicked take secret bribes to pervert the course of justice (Proverbs 17:23 New Living Translation).

But the taking of such straight-forward bribes isn’t the point of this commentary.  Then again, maybe it is? What I’m writing about is how our B.C. government subtly assists the B.C. Bud growers and other criminals with their money laundering needs–for a healthy cut off the top, of course.

Our government-run gambling rackets and government-regulated private casinos in this province allow organized as well as disorganized criminals to launder incredible amounts of illegally generated profits through these officially blessed gambling entities in order to get out on the other side “clean” money. For example, buy $9,999 or more of casino chips with cash from the latest drug deal. Play some Black Jack, make a few safe bets, and then cash out with a casino cheque. Voilà, money laundering 101! The now “clean” money can be legitimately deposited into the criminal’s bank accounts. Then those living from the proceeds of crime can shop till they drop and, hopefully, pay lots of HST sales tax for another cut to the government from their ill-gotten gains. There’s real financial logic to this moral turpitude.

For years B.C. gambling was a neat, profitable, and quiet arrangement benefiting government, criminals—and even many NGOs! The B.C. government in a cunning sleight of hand bought off criticism for years with generous grants to charities and non-profits that were derived directly from B.C. gambling revenues. By throwing around a portion of their take they were able to effect a P.R. miracle transforming parasitical gambling exactions worthy of the Sheriff of Nottingham into socially acceptable “gaming” that partially benefits the community. The only losers were those victimized and exploited by B.C.’s criminals as well as the collateral community damage inflicted on the gambling-addicted who can’t stop themselves from betting their family’s rent and grocery money.

But this week, however, brought a bit of trouble to this profitable quiet conspiracy of the ethically challenged. The Canadian Fed’s Finanacial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC), which requires casinos and financial institutions to report cash transactions over $10,000, fined the B.C. Lottery corporation (a provincially owned crown corporation) $670,000 for failing to comply with federal laws aimed at stopping criminal and terrorism-related money laundering. FINTRAC found that the B.C. gambling racket had made 1,020 infractions of the law, and repeatedly failed to introduce a program to reduce the risk of money laundering.

To minimize the fallout from such negative publicity, the affected B.C. gambling entity’s talking head claimed it was just an “administrative fine” due to computer errors that caused late filing, etc.  However, FINTRAC said the fines were levied for a “persistent, chronic failure to comply with the law.” This failure to follow the law has lasted for years according to FINTRAC.

The Prophet Jeremiah looking forward to our days and the low spiritual state of our time described the lack of morals and honesty at all levels of our society. Jeremiah also predicted the outcome of such a corrupt society. Consider the prophet’s words. Do they describe us?

13-15″Everyone’s after the dishonest dollar, little people and big people alike. Prophets and priests and everyone in between twist words and doctor truth.
 My people are broken—shattered!—and they put on Band-Aids,
saying, ‘It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.’ But things are not ‘just fine’! Do you suppose they are embarrassed over this outrage?
No, they have no shame. They don’t even know how to blush. There’s no hope for them. They’ve hit bottom and there’s no getting up.
 As far as I’m concerned, they’re finished.” God has spoken (Jeremiah 6:13-15, The Message translation).