Authorities seek background checks for all port workers as organized crime flourishes: report

As criminal activity continues to run rampant at ports across the country, police are seeking new powers to curb illegal behaviour.

Authorities seek background checks for all port workers as organized crime flourishes: report
The Canadian Press / Darryl Dyck
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According to Blacklock’s Reporter, a new RCMP report says organized crime is still a major problem at ports across Canada.

In an effort to quell such nefarious activity, law enforcement is seeking the ability to require all port workers to submit to full background checks as a condition of employment. This would include federal customs agents as well.

As stated in the RCMP report, criminal organizations are now often targeting “employees at international ports who facilitate the importation and exportation of illicit goods.”

The Port of Montreal has become known as a hotspot for stolen vehicles to be dropped off and then later shipped to countries across the globe.

As further detailed in the report by Blacklock's, the president of the Québec Association of Police Directors, Pierre Brochet, testified on February 29 that "Car theft puts a spotlight on the very integrity of Canada’s ports which are critical infrastructure for our country."

"We need to take a hard look at the security of our ports, understand how car thieves operate and take aggressive and decisive action. We must fight organized crime infiltrating our ports. For example we need to tackle head on the critical issue of hiring and conducting security checks of Canadian port employees and the regulations involved," he added.

Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre has previously called out the Trudeau Liberals for their soft-on-crime approach contributing to the spike in auto thefts.

Even Justin Trudeau's justice ministers have had their government vehicles stolen three times in as many years as organized criminals appear undeterred by potential punishment.

The most recent data available exemplifies the surging problem of auto thefts in Canada. Ontario reportedly saw close to a 50% increase in stolen vehicles in 2022, and just last year over 80,000 vehicles were stolen across the nation.

Mr. Brochet says that implementing "concrete measures" such as mandatory background checks on all port workers can help restore the integrity of the country's ports.

"Given the situation we also need to go a step further by giving police the critical task of conducting security checks of Canadian port employees," he said.

Police have sent their request for additional powers to the Commons public safety committee in their latest effort to put a halt to auto theft and criminality at ports.

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