Province introduces bills targeting organized crime

The Manitoba government is sharing details on two bills designed to reduce crime and increase safety.

On Friday, Justice Minister Matt Wiebe introduced the ‘unexplained wealth act’, along with the ‘body armour and fortified vehicle control amendment act’, at the Manitoba Legislature.

“The unexplained wealth order is something that we talked about with Manitobans [and] communicated to them that it was not enough to go after the causes of crime, but also to really address crime head on,” Wiebe said on Friday morning. “And specifically, when it comes to organized crime. We want to show Manitobans that we’re tough on crime, and that we’re making concrete steps to go after those criminal enterprises.”

The unexplained wealth act would require suspected drug traffickers and other organized crime groups to disclose beneficial owners and explain how they purchased certain assets.

“And if they can’t answer for it… give law enforcement the ability to seize that property, and to begin the civil property forfeiture procedures,” Wiebe explained. “This is an important tool – one that was missing in Manitoba.”

Under the act, corporations would need to divulge that information to law enforcement, and other regulatory bodies including the Criminal Property Forfeiture Branch.

“Oftentimes, we’re finding these are sophisticated organizations that hide behind numbered companies or hide behind corporations,” Wiebe said. “This will give us the ability to go and find the true ownership.”

The unexplained wealth act was a campaign promise of Premier Wab Kinew and NDP candidates during last fall’s provincial election.

Meantime, the other bill introduced focuses on seizing vehicles with aftermarket changes that could be used to conceal weapons and drugs. It would prohibit the use of “aftermarket hidden compartments,” which the province said have no legitimate function.

“This legislation gives us the tools that we need when drug traffickers are using vehicles to transport and traffic drugs,” Wiebe said. “We can go after those vehicles specifically, and show those drug dealers that they don’t have any place in our province.” 

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