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Thursday, November 18, 2004

A proud day for Ottawa

By now you've all seen the New York Daily News story, Stoolie: Canada pol in mob, about an FBI informant naming former Canadian Public Works Minister Alphonso Gagliano as a "made" member of a crime family, bannered on Bourque. (Kate posted this below just before I did.)

He said he and a group of top Bonanno gangsters traveled to Montreal in the 1990s to let the northern branch office know the family had a new boss, Joseph Massino.

The group met at a catering hall, and during the meeting, a Bonanno gangster, Joseph Lopresti, introduced Gagliano to Lino as a made man in the family, FBI documents state.

Lino made a point of telling the FBI that only actual members of the Bonanno family were allowed to attend the meeting at the catering hall. Associates were banned.

I wonder if the RCMP knew about this allegation. After all, our commissioner Giuliano (Zack) Zaccardelli is from the same neck of the woods. Was there any word on the street?

I seem to recall a Senate committee a couple of years ago pointing out that our ports were controlled by organized crime, which should be of concern to our current prime minister whose family is in the shipping business. But the committee was not specific and it's probably not the same group of Goodfellas. Consider this from a Southam news story by James Baxter, March 18, 2002:

OTTAWA - Officials from all aspects of law enforcement warned the Chretien government Canada's major ports would become a hotbed of criminal activity if the Ports Canada Police were disbanded, new documents reveal.

Six years after that advice was ignored, a damning Senate committee report has identified the ports as a breeding ground for organised crime and terrorism.

Yesterday the Liberal government came under fire for refusing to listen to the warning from provincial attorneys-general, police chiefs, Crown prosecutors, international security organizations and the Canadian Police Association.

Well, I guess today's revelation is a new high for the Liberal Party of Canada and I expect their poll numbers will shoot up in Ontario and Quebec when word gets out, as they seem to do whenever an item like this surfaces.

Posted by Kevin Steel on November 18, 2004 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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He made those ad agencies an offer they couldn't refuse.

Posted by: Cyril | 2004-11-18 10:07:29 AM

Never forget this: Gangsterism and Big Government are different sides of the same coin and always exist together, never separately.

In a country like North Korea, you have only one gang which has all of the rackets sewn up. In other places, such as New York City, Chicago, southern Italy, and Canada, the gangsters who are in charge of the government take care of disarming and pacifying the public and feathering their own nest, but still leave plenty of opportunity for other gangster organizations to come in. The gangs don't operate in competition with each other, but synergistically.

It's not hard to see how they do it. Anti-gun legislation takes away citizens' right of self-defence and places their "protection" into the tender care of a coalition of ivory-tower bureaucrats and a closed-shop police union. The monolithic and unaccountable nature of those two institutions make them ripe for control and exploitation by the non-governmental gangsters. Massive public works projects are also the plaything of politicians, bureaucrats, and unions. The lack of accountability and the huge, almost limitless amounts of cash make a perfect target for the non-governmental gangs to penetrate and tap into. The bid-rigging, bribery and corruption which infest the public works projects spread out out into and pollute the entire economy, to the point where legitimate, honest businesses find it more and more difficult to get anything accomplished.

The next thing you know, all of the old, reliable and honest industries that once paid the freight for all of the corrupt gang-related nonsense, are going broke and have joined the queue in front of the crooked politicians, begging for subsidies and protection. The public, who were told that acquiring a Big Government was "progressive", wake up one day to realize that they are its slaves - but by then they are far too weak and divided to do anything about it.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2004-11-18 10:27:55 AM

Is there any reason to drag our RCMP Commissioner's name into this, Kevin? Before even indirectly associating someone with organized crime don't we need a little more than being from the same neck of the woods?

And before we take any of this as true let's remember the source for this info is not exactly an honourable member of society. They often lie for their own reasons.

By all means let's have vigorous investigative journalism (lord knows the rest of the media won't touch something like this), but all we have now is an unsubstantiated allegation from a stoolie.

Posted by: Kevin Jaeger | 2004-11-18 11:19:28 AM

I am not associating him with organized crime. I am simply suggesting that it would be surprising if the the RCMP did not know about this allegation because Montreal is both Gagliano's and Zaccardelli's home turf. (They are both Chretien appointments, too.) It is my understanding that the police tend to know about criminal associations even if no charges are ever laid.

I also know, from having lived in Montreal and having some contact with various ethnic communities there, that rumours swirl faster within the microcosm of such communities than they do in the general public. And of course both the former public works minister and the RCMP commissioner are Italian Canadians. My guess is, and it is only a guess, that if such a rumour were going around, it would circulate in the Italian-Canadian community first.

Certainly, if I were a high ranking police officer and heard a rumour that a high ranking politician--appointed by the same man who gave me my job just before Adscam broke in the news--was a made mob member, my ears would perk up.

There are three ways that the RCMP could have known about this allegation if it were true (and you are quite right in pointing out that all we have right now is just a stoolie's word on it): through local rumour, through local police surveillance of organized crime, or by notification by the FBI (this last doesn't require it to be true of course because they would simply pass on the stoolie's statement).

So again, I'm wondering, how much does the RCMP know about this? When did they know about it? What have they done about it?

btw I was also distressed to see in that list of those raising concerns about organized crime in ports in the James Baxter story (I incorrectly named him "Barber" and I'll go back and fix that) that the RCMP was not specifically listed. But then, the force was given part of the job by the Liberals, so perhaps they were pleased with their expanded role. From the same story:

"Despite the concerns of law-enforcement and security experts, the Chretien government went ahead with plans to disband the ports police in 1996, turning over control of security inside the ports to a mix of private security companies, local police and the RCMP."

But remember, it was under the watch of that "mix of private security companies, local police and the RCMP" that the circumstances developed which the Senate commmittee criticized.

Posted by: Kevin Steel | 2004-11-18 1:07:23 PM

"And of course both the former public works minister and the RCMP commissioner are Italian Canadians."

Er, at one point, didn't a published newspaper account describe an overheard conversation in which Commissioner Z. boasted that he comes from the same *village* as Minister G.? My my, what a coinkydink that would be!

A rumour around Ottawa, which I think I heard from a caller to a radio talk show, is that federal government mandarins warned Chretien of exactly what he was getting, before he elevated Fonzie to cabinet. The Vatican seems to have known something too. Clearly there were rumours were swirling around in more places than Montreal's Little Italy.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2004-11-18 2:09:18 PM

re: "...didn't a published newspaper account describe an overheard conversation in which Commissioner Z. boasted that he comes from the same *village* as Minister G.?"

Don't recall that story. For the record, Zaccardelli was born in Prezza, in the south (mainland) of Italy, according to the RCMP bio.

Near as I can find, Gagliano was born in Siculiana, province of Agrigento, Sicily.

And no, the Bonnanos are not from that town. They are from Castellammare del Golfo, province of Trapani, Sicily, about 75 miles from Siculiana, according this Murder, Inc. page.

Maybe we should just stick to North America. But then, maybe not.

In trying to find the above, I ran across this Feb. 23, 2001 CTV story: Opposition demands Gagliano resign over suspicious letter

CTV also has a synopsis of Gagliano's career
First elected in 1984 (opposition); government whip in 1993; joined cabinet in 1994 as a junior minister; minister of labour in 1996; Minister of public works and government services in 1997; Chretien named him ambassador to Denmark on January 15, 2002; Gagliano recalled Feb. 10, 2004.

I also came across this on Joseph Massino, head of the Bonnano crime family, on Gangsters Inc.:

"When Philip "Rusty" Rastelli died in 1991 Massino was the obvious choice for new boss. When Massino went to prison the Bonanno Family was on it's way to extinction...

In 1993, Joseph Massino was released from prison and came back to work. He ran the Bonanno Family with Salvatore A. Vitale (his brother in law) as Underboss and 73 year old Anthony Spero as consigliere. Under Massino's lead the Bonanno Crime Family has turned around completely."

Posted by: Kevin Steel | 2004-11-18 4:16:41 PM

"For the record, Zaccardelli was born in Prezza, in the south (mainland) of Italy, according to the RCMP bio. Near as I can find, Gagliano was born in Siculiana, province of Agrigento, Sicily."

You're probably right. I seem to recall a story in Frank Magazine about a year ago, about how a reporter from a major Canadian media outlet overheard a conversation that Commissioner Z. was having at a social function in Ottawa. Besides making some comments about an unflattering biography of PM Chretien, Comm. Z. also made a comment a propos the Adscam scandal, that he is from the same village in Italy as Mr. Gagliano. But my memory may be faulty, or the story may have been wrong, and if so I apologize.

Not that there would be anything wrong with coming from the same village as a made man in a crime syndicate, and working for the same boss, and being the guy who was supposed to know who was doing what with the Bonanno family, but not having a clue about it. Allegedly.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2004-11-18 7:18:49 PM

Perhaps Paul Martin should hire Michael Moore to make a movie boosting the badly sagging Liberal Party image to be force fed to Canadians. After all marvelous Michael has a reputation for making unbelievable movies.

Posted by: Bob Wood | 2004-11-18 8:12:08 PM

For whatever it's worth, the mafia has controlled much of the US longshorement's union for decades. I understand massive civil racketeering charges are in the works now to challenge 50 years of mafia influence. The Genovese family is prominent in the corruption here, but in a deal like this a lot of people take a bite.

I gather the Bonanno crime family has historic ties in Canada. And of course I wouldn't be a bit surprised to discover corruption on the Canadian waterfron.

Posted by: Greg in Dallas | 2004-11-18 9:39:25 PM

Kevin, thanks for the link to Bourque. What a fantastic site !

Posted by: David Larry | 2004-11-19 6:12:51 AM

Read the 1997 article in the link below and scroll down to the heading: "Book Keeping is a Dangerous Business" to find more of Gagliano's activities before he entered government service.....very interesting associations into drug traffickers and the Montreal mob


Posted by: Robert_a | 2004-11-24 9:50:01 AM

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