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article imageDoes the mafia influence Ontario's politicians, justice system?

By Andrew Moran     Sep 19, 2012 in Politics
Toronto - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has "no reason to believe" that 'Ndrangheta, an Italian mafia, has infiltrated the province's elected officials, the criminal justice system and law enforcement. Former RCMP chief superintendent Ben Soave thinks otherwise.
The ‘Ndrangheta is a criminal organization based in Calabria, Italy. Since the late 1990s, the group has become one of the most powerful crime organizations of Italy and in the world and it maintains a “heavy presence” in Canada.
A joint investigation by the Toronto Star and CBC's French-language investigative program Enquête found that the ‘Ndrangheta has infiltrated many facets of society from the political realm to the manufacturing sector.
Enquête spoke with former RCMP chief superintendent Ben Soave, who led anti-mafia initiatives in the province until 2004. He stated that the ‘Ndrangheta has become more of a problem in Ontario and even has more of a corruption issue than in Quebec.
“They're probably more active than in Quebec from political figures to law enforcement to people in the criminal justice system, to the manufacturing industries, they've done that,” said Soave. “They have the same problem, the same corruption. They have the same organized crime groups operating here. Devastating as they are in Quebec, but they're much lower profile.”
Sources told Enquête host Alain Gravel that the ‘Ndrangheta maintains a lower profile in Ontario than its neighbour to the east because in Quebec there are dead bodies on the streets and in Ontario there is a lot of money.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
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Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, speaking at the International Plowing Match in Ayr, Ontario Tuesday, doubts that there is any legitimacy to these ground-breaking allegations and if there is the RCMP shouldn’t do it through the media.
“If there are some serious and warranted allegations they need to be made in a substantive way, not through the media. The first time I hear about this is through the media. And I would expect that people in positions of responsibility among our police services would be drawing this to our attention at the earliest possible opportunity,” said the Ontario premier.
“I have no reason to believe that they would want to keep this quiet and confidential if, in fact, this is grounded in reality. I would think they would have approached us in a constructive way some time ago. If there’s some truth to this, then let’s get it on the table. Provide us with the background to this.”
Despite the premier’s doubts, Valentina Tenti, an Italian mafia expert, testified Tuesday at the Charbonneau inquiry that the ‘Ndrangheta maintains a substantial presence in the country, especially in Thunder Bay and Toronto. Furthermore, Jacques Duchesneau, a former police chief, also said that more than two-thirds of political funding has been done “improperly.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
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The Globe and Mail reports that Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath are concerned over these reports and believe these must be taken seriously.
“That’s an allegation that I think we have to take very seriously, and it’s quite concerning,” said Horwath. “I would hope that if anybody has any information that corroborates that suspicion, that they come forward and let the public know and let the politicians know, let the government know, let the police know, let the OPP know what they know in terms of any particular individuals.”
During his business mission in Chicago, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was asked by CBC News regarding the accusations and said he was unaware of the report and that he has never been approached by the mafia.
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