Media Advisory: Civil Liberties Group to Argue that Money Laundering Inquiry Must Consider Civil Liberties and Human Rights

WHAT: BCCLA at Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in BC

WHEN: October 26, 2020, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm PT

WHERE: Hearings will take place via videoconferencing.  A livestream of the hearings will be available here.

Vancouver, BC – Coast Salish Territories – Lawyers from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) will argue for privacy, due process, and human rights at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, which will resume hearings on October 26, 2020.

Megan Tweedie, BCCLA Senior Counsel, states: “Money laundering is a serious problem, but we don’t have to sacrifice Canadians’ rights and freedoms solve it. The BCCLA will remind the Inquiry to keep civil liberties and human rights front and center as it does its work and will ask whether new police powers are really necessary to prevent money laundering.”

The Inquiry will hear evidence about money laundering in British Columbia, the role of government in preventing money laundering, and what has kept regulators and law enforcement from addressing money laundering effectively. The BCCLA is a full participant in the Inquiry.

The BCCLA has expressed concern with some of the recommendations the Commission will consider, including government proposals to expand police surveillance and increase information collection and sharing between government agencies and private businesses. Government demands for new surveillance powers are all too familiar, including well-meaning proposals to use various forms of data to combat money laundering.

Tweedie continues: “As the government collects and shares reams of sensitive information about us through various agencies, it is increasingly able to stitch together detailed profiles about our behavior and interests. When the government develops massive profiles on people – it is massively dangerous. The over-collection and sharing of personal information by surveillance agencies can result in racial, ethnic and religious profiling. We should be very careful about granting police and government increased access to sensitive, personal information, and when we do, it should be subject to rigorous oversight.”

The BCCLA is also concerned by recommendations that the province introduce ‘unexplained wealth orders.’ These orders would allow the government to seize money or property if the owner cannot show where the money came from, even if the owner is not suspected of a crime.

The BCCLA will be represented at the Cullen Commission by BCCLA lawyers Megan Tweedie and Jessica Magonet.

The BCCLA’s written opening statement delivered to the Commission in February 2020 is available here.