Today, Solicitor General Kash Heed assured reporters the provincial government "still has (gaming policy and enforcement branch) investigators that work closely with the RCMP to deal with significant issues around illegal gaming in this province." This, in response to concerns about the government's commitment to investigating such criminal activities. But, under questioning from New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston in the legislature, the solicitor general couldn't confirm the RCMP's integrated illegal gaming enforcement team had been shutdown - something that happened on April 1 and was subsequently reported by Public Eye. Instead, he took that question "on notice."
The solicitor general didn't address his apparent lack of knowledge as he left the legislature. But, when asked about the matter a few hours later in his office, he told Public Eye, "Let me just tell you something Sean - I was well aware we were investigating illegal gaming in this province in a more comprehensive fashion. That's what I did know. And that's my goal to ensure we're able to carry on with those types of investigations in British Columbia."
As for former team commander Fred Pinnock's statement the government seemed to favour a "radar gun-level of enforcement" of illegal gaming rather than "meaningful targeting that would disrupt significant criminal activity," the solicitor general bristled at the suggestion.
"That's that individual's opinion," he said. "And he's entitled to his own opinion but not his own set of facts. And I've given you the facts with respect to how we're dealing with illegal gangs and organized crime in British Columbia that are involved in this activity."
The solicitor general also said the decision to shutdown the team was made by the ministry of housing and social development.
Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman, who is also responsible for British Columbia Lotteries Corp. and the gaming policy and enforcement branch, was on personal leave and unavailable for comment.